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12/02/2010 - MEP's understand but can they deliver results?

Dear sir,
Thank you for your email. It is always a pleasure to get feedback.
As you may be aware, Spain has just taken over the presidency of the European Council and therefore now find itself very much in the European public eye. While they find themselves in this spotlight, it is very important that we highlight the plight of the many European citizens who chose to move to Spain only to find themselves living a nightmare. For that reason, we have already asked the Spanish presidency an official parliamentary question which refers directly to their intentions regarding the urbanisation laws of Spain in general, or of the Comunidad Valenciana in particular. I see this as the first part of what will be a continued effort by myself and my colleagues to highlight the injustices being suffered by so many of our constituents.
We would welcome any further information from you and we will also liase with Michael Cashman's office on this matter.
Kind regards,

Daniel Hannan MEP

Read Daniel's Telegraph blog every day at href="mhtml:{0834C051-FA78-4989-A71F-647BC8E80EDC}mid://00000328/!x-usc:blocked::">

European Parliament
Bât. Altiero Spinelli
60, rue Wiertz
B-1047 Bruxelles
Tel: +32 (0)2 28 45137
Fax: +32 (0)2 28 49137


Dear sir,

Thank you for your email. I am sorry to hear of the situation with your property; unfortunately over the past 18 months I have been alerted by many constituents who have fallen victim to the application to the Coastal Law in Spain, originally an environmental measure meant to combat over-urbanisation.  

This was discussed at some length today in the European Parliament when the Spanish Prime Minister came to speak in the context of Spain’s Presidency of the Council of Ministers. My colleague Diana Wallis MEP spoke for the Liberal Democrats in bringing this to the Prime Minister’s attention. She made it clear that it was Mr. Zapatero’s duty as a European leader to prevent these discriminatory abuses which threaten the single market.


There is, and has been for some time, significant concern about this at European level. One of the core values of European Union is the concept of shared European citizenship, where all EU citizens have equal rights across the EU regardless of their original nationality. The demolition of homes in Almería, Valencia, and elsewhere in Spain raises serious problems of free movement, and equal access to civil justice throughout Europe. These deserve to be brought forcefully to the attention of the Spanish government – their failure, and that of the governments of certain regions, to protect the rights of European citizens is profoundly disappointing and contrary to the principles upon which the European Union is founded.


The instruction in 2008 from the Spanish government on the application of the 1988 Coastal Law has been applied primarily at the expense of foreign owners, and not at those who are the root cause of coastal destruction. These laws have been applied inconsistently and improperly, and there is a lack of clarity, precision and certainty with regard to the property rights of homeowners in Spain. Meanwhile the national and regional governments have failed to be transparent in the presentation of development plans to foreign EU citizens, and there is a sad lack of confidence in the ability of Spain’s judicial system to truly serve redress to those foreign victims of urbanisation.


Strictly speaking the power to enforce planning matters is not held by the European Union; it is held by local authorities and ultimate responsibility lies with the Spanish government. However there are aspects of European law which do apply to this case, including the Directive on Public Procurement, for which the European Commission has recently brought proceedings against the Kingdom of Spain in the European Court of Justice. This is the procedure that is normally followed if a member state fails to properly implement European law.


You may be aware of the Auken Report which was passed by the European Parliament last year. This condemned the Spanish government on a number of counts in relation to their application of the Coastal Law and protection of property rights. In the wake of this report I have been supporting efforts in the European Parliament to block European structural funds to Spain until these abuses have been resolved. Unfortunately we were not successful in achieving this on the occasion of passing the 2010 EU budget, but there will be future opportunities, and the possibility of further Commission action against Spain remains open.


The Spanish Presidency of the Council of Ministers, which began on 1st January and lasts until 30 June, will bring this issue to the European spotlight, as was seen today when discussion of the Coastal Law dominated the Prime Minister’s presentation to the European Parliament.


With regard to your personal case, I am sure that you have already sought legal advice, but if you have not the British consulate in Alicante can provide you with a list of local English-speaking lawyers. Their website, with contact details, is I would also recommend you contact the NGO, Abusos Urbanistico, if you have not done so already. Their email address is


Yours sincerely,


Sharon Bowles MEP


Office of Sharon Bowles MEP, Liberal Democrat

Chair of the European Parliament Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee 

Member of the European Parliament for South East England

Tel. +44 (0)1442 875 962


Dear sir,
Thank you for writing to Nigel Farage about Miss Andreasen's speech, which, in point of fact, he helped to prepare. I am glad that you were able to access it and that you regard it as helpful.
Nigel has no immediate opportunities for speaking on the problems of expatriate home-owners in Spain, but will certainly avail himself of any which present themselves.  Unlike a genuinely democratic parliament, the EU-assembly does not allow its members to speak, on any subject of their choice, whenever they like.
Yours sincerely
Andrew S. Reed
Office of Nigel Farage, Brussels,
Dear sir,
Mrs. Andreasen forwarded your email me.
She spoke recently before Mr. Zapatero in the Parliament in Strasbourg because she feels strongly that these homeowners are being treated unjustly and are receiving no protection from any of the responsible parties involved, the regional government, the Spanish government, their own government at home if they are foreign nationals which is largely the case, or from the European Union.
She brought the matter up in the chamber not only to highlight the problem before the entire EU but also to let all parties know that she intends to pursue the matter.
She wants to bring the matter before the entire Parliament for a debate as soon as possible. To do this she will ask to have it discussed as an oral question to the Spanish presidency of the EU. It is not certain that the powers that be will allow this to happen but we will know within a month if this strategy succeeds.
Marta will write to you and keep you informed as to how things proceed. In the meantime please do not hesitate to write to us if you need clarification or want to communicate any detail to us.
Yours sincerely,
Richard King
Parliamentary assistant to Marta Andreasen MEP



Dear sir,


Thank you for your email regarding illegal building licenses and the Spanish authorities. Richard read your email with great interest and asked me to reply on his behalf.


Richard firstly asked me to thank you for your comments, this is indeed a huge problem for a significant number of British citizens.  Richard's colleague Sir Robert Atkins MEP, as well as Michael Cashman MEP, have been particularly active on this issue.  A report was passed last year condemning the actions of the Spanish authorites and urging them to reassess their course of action, particularly in the fields of land grabs and demolition orders.  


However, Richard is afraid that the role of the European Union, and thus the European Parliament, has now passed, the Parliament can urge better and reasonable legal treatment but it is not a position to compel a member state to change its policies in this area.  As Mr Cashman said in his letter, this is a problem that the Spanish authorities alone can solve, and the Conservative position has always been a policy of non interference in the affairs of another member state.  Richard asked me to wish you luck in your legal battle but regrets to inform you that he cannot provide any further concrete legislative support.


I hope that this answers you questions, thank you again for contacting Richard.


Yours sincerely,



Emma Gurrey

Assistant to Richard Ashworth MEP




Dear sir

Thank you for your email. I am sorry to learn of the distress that this situation is causing you. I am very aware of this issue and have been contacted by others who find themselves in a similar situation to yourself.

In March 2009, the European Parliament voted in support of a report by Margrete Auken MEP which called for action by the Spanish authorities to end the property abuses in Spain. You can find more information on this at

As you have highlighted in your email, many MEPs are getting involved in this issue. This week I submitted a Parliamentary Question to the European Commission asking how it plans to work with the new Spanish Presidency to stop the property nightmare. I will forward a copy of the response as soon as I have it.

I also plan to put out a press release next week to highlight the abuse and distress suffered by those who bought properties in good faith only to find they are illegal and face demolition. This will be on my website once released.

I hope there is a satisfactory outcome to your situation.

Yours sincerely

Liz Lynne MEP