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27/09/2010 - Land abuse complainants vow to fight on



A RECOMMENDATION from the Advocate General in the European court of justice(ECJ) to shelve the complaint over abusive practises carried out under Valencia's notorious land laws met with a mixed reaction this week.The case was originally presented by development abuse campaigners Abusos Urbanísticos No (AUN) which has thousands of expat members along the Costas

The baton was then taken up by the European Commission (EC), with the ECpresenting the case against the Kingdom of Spain.The complaint relates to the awarding of controversial PAI development plans which were drawn up under the now-discredited LRAU land-grab law and the LUV law which replaced it. The LRAU however remains in effect for around 150 PAI plans started before February 2006 when the LUV entered into force.The EC stated, inter alia, in its case against Spain that this country, in particular in the Valencian region, was failing to fulfil council directives‘for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts' and reported that both the LRAU and the LUV ‘infringe the Community public procurement directives in various aspects'.  However  ECJ Advocate General (AG) Niilo Jääskinen has since argued that key European directives are not applicable in regional legislation such as the Valencia land laws.He also appears to suggest that one of most ‘abusive' aspects of the landgrab laws - that a home or landowner is forced to pay huge costs for infrastructure for an urbanisation which they don't want, as well as ceding land – is actually proper and legal, at least as he reads Spanish, Valencianand EU law. His recommendations are not binding, and law abuse campaigners are hoping they will be rejected by ECJ judges who will now rule in the case. In a strongly worded statement AUN has labelled Mr Jääskinen's report ‘full of errors, omissions and faulty conclusions'. "We're surprised and disappointed with the narrow approach taken by the AG and the conclusions he has reached but it's not the end of the story," said vice-president Charles Svoboda."There is one more kick at the can, in the sense we understand that the Commission now will respond to the AG's report and recommendations.

 

"MEP Margaret Auken, the author of a damning report in 2009 on land and property abuses in Spain, said the AG's conclusions do not respond in anyway to the concerns she raised . "The EU parliament is still waiting for the Spanish government to provide a real solution to the grave situation which many European citizens are suffering," she said.  

 

Meanwhile, political chiefs in Valencia have jumped on Mr Jääskinen's report to use it as a justification for property abuses which they have always denied.Third regional vice president, responsible for town planning (urbanismo),Juan Cotino said: "It is time for those who collaborated in the campaigns of defamation against Valencia town planning to pay the price."They should repair the damage they have done and say sorry."Regional secretary for the environment, water, housing and town planning María Ángeles Ureña stated that PAI plans are not public works contracts and it was not necessary to adhere to these rules."Europe has interfered in questions which it does not have jurisdiction over," she said."Town planning comes under the wing of the regional governments."AUN's Charles Svoboda hit back."It's too early for the Valencian types to declare ‘victory' and it is silly for them to do so, given what this process has cost them. They are the ones who should repent."It was the application, often quite perverse, of the land laws that did thedamage, not those who brought the matters to the EU institutions."

 

 

Author Dave Jones CB news