MEPs slam ‘Robert Mugabe school of land re-distribution’ in Valencia
SPANISH MEPs have hit back at threats to withdraw EU funding if the nation continues to abuse property rights.
As reported in issue 60, a draft report by Danish Green politician Margrete Auken – who had been commissioned by the European Parliament to investigate property and environmental abuse in Spain – suggested that Brussels could turn off the financial tap if planning abuses continue.
In particular, the report singled out Valencia’s ‘land grab laws,’ which enable housing developers to build housing schemes on people’s private land and force owners to co-fund the construction.
But in a debate on the draft, which involved land grab victims, MEPS and representatives from the regional government of Valencia, politicians from Spain’s right wing Partido Popular (PP) defended the expropriation laws, claiming they respect EU legislation.
Speaking at the meeting of the European Union’s petitions committee in Brussels, Auken said that “thousands” of people have been affected by land grab laws. “One right is the right to live peacefully in one’s own home,” she added.
Spain hit back, with PP member Maria Angeles Ureña stating that the expropriation laws “contain sustainable development guarantees.”
Throughout the debate, land grab was criticised by the majority of the attendees. British MEP Roger Helmer said he was “outraged” at Spain’s response to the draft.
“There is no democratic legitimacy in property confiscation. It is just plain theft. I am shocked at the outrageous contribution from the representative of the Valencia regional government.
“This is the Robert Mugabe school of land re-distribution,” he said in reference to the African leader, who has taken land from farmers who do not support him.
One victim of land grab – a Spanish national – said: “Developers are undermining our countryside and our economic potential for tourism. Property speculation is a major social ill and a source of destruction for our cultural heritage.”
Backed by socialist PSOE politicians, the PP also demanded that Auken removes suggestions that funding to Spain will be stopped if her report is not acted upon.
The two groups also want an end to the planned investigations into building projects that break EU water directives.
Last year, Spain’s Green MEP, David Hammerstein, asked Brussels to probe at least 250 housing projects that do not have a guaranteed water supply.
The draft will be voted on in European Parliament in March.