Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

NEWSFLASH!! EU forces Spain to retract law used to grab private land for commercial development!!! Call David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsberg!

By Aussiegirl

In a stunning development, the EU proves to be more concerned with private property rights than our own Supreme Court. It turns out that Spain is being forced to reconsider a law which had grabbed the land of expat Britons on the Costa Blanca for commercial use.

In a development which suprised the lawmakers, the Spanish were threatened with being hauled before the European Court of Justice. Perhaps the people of New London should appeal to the EU -- they might get more justice than they did from their own highest court.

Not surprisingly, the law had resulted in ---- you guessed it ---- collusion between corrupt officials, greedy property developers --- and -- LAWYERS!!! We forgot about that one in the mix -- how could we overlook THE LAWYERS!!! -- who will troll around like sharks looking for desirable private property to peddle to developers and politicians.

As I said on the very day this decision came out, this ruling will result in the kinds of corrupt oligarchies and mafia clan-type organizations which have been the bane of post-Soviet countries like Ukraine and Russia. Only there at least they are trying to get away from that corruption -- while here we are instituting it under threat of law.

The Telegraph has the story:

Spain's notorious "land grab" law, under which hundreds of expatriate Britons have lost homes on the Costa Blanca, is to be scrapped in three months.

Faced with the prospect of being hauled before the European Court of Justice, Spanish provincial legislators have pledged to redraft the property laws by September and work out a compensation package for homeowners and those who have already lost their properties.

The move is a huge relief to thousands of residents on the Costa Blanca, many of whom faced financial ruin after their homes were seized for far less than their market value.

The next part is the real kicker. Just as in the recent New London decision, the reason for seizing the property was to make way for urban commercial development. (But I'm sure that the Spanish authorities had a "comprehensive plan", since this seemed to be the deciding factor in the Supreme Court's decision. There's nothing like a "cunning plan" a la Baldrick in the marvelous "Black Adder" series-- and look how well HIS plans always turned out.)

Under a loophole in the law, known as the Ley Reguladora de la Actividad Urbanista (LRAU), property agents could compulsorily purchase prime rural land by saying it was for urban development.

After a long campaign by local and expat homeowners, the Valencian regional government has finally dropped its opposition to reform the law and agreed to speedy amendments supervised by a Spanish parliamentary ombudsman. A spokesman for Rafael Blasco, Valencia's minister for housing, said: "The LRAU has a lot of problems, and the government of Valencia is working with the European Parliament to replace it with a new one by September."

The proposals have been welcomed by Leonard and Tessa Deacon, who faced losing a third of the land around their villa at Moraira, on the Costa Blanca. They had also had a �200,000 demand for infrastructure costs.
Mrs Deacon, 61, said: "This sounds as if it could be very good news. The fact that the Valencian ombudsman is to be consulted about a replacement law is excellent. He has been opposed to this land law from the beginning."

The apparent breakthrough was announced last week by Michael Cashman, the former EastEnders actor who is now a Euro-MP and a vice-president of the European Parliament's petitions committee.

Mr Cashman, who led an investigation by Euro-MPs into the law last year, said that Spanish politicians had conceded that the law had been abused. He will ask Tony Blair to raise the matter with the Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, when Britain assumes presidency of the European Union next month.

"I am certain Mr Zapatero will hear not only from Tony Blair, but also from heads of government from other members states whose citizens are equally affected by the abuses," Mr Cashman said.

And the money quote is:

The Euro-MPs' investigation found that the law had led to collusion between corrupt developers, officials and lawyers, although its call to end the practice was initially ignored.

Spanish officials are said to have had a change of heart after the European Commission threatened Madrid in April with huge fines unless it resolved the matter.

Last night, Charles Svoboda, the former head of Canada's intelligence service who led the anti-land grab campaign, said: "It will be fantastic if the LRAU is replaced swiftly with honest legislation. But I suspect that the Valencian government will bring a draft replacement law to parliament, and then delay and delay.

"They will find one reason after another to spin it out, and in the meantime the land grab law stays on the statute books. They said that they would amend the law to plug the loopholes over 10 years ago, and they have done nothing."

Officials delaying? What else is new?


At 4:58 PM, Blogger Billy D said...

Uh-oh. Hmmm. They will have a problem here. They like the European laws, but this doesn't suit them. Maybe the inner conflict will make them implode.
Like that roving-robot on the old Star Trek episode.

At 10:57 PM, Blogger Aussiegirl said...

Very funny!! I love the image -- internal contradition -- internal contradiction - impode, implode!!!



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