By Wendy Williams
VALENCIA’S land grab law might be legal, according to lawyers in Brussels.
A ruling by the Advocate General in the European court of justice insists that a complaint by hundreds should be ignored.
The matter has come to a head following a complaint by the high profile campaign group Abusos Urbanisticos No, which formed in protest against the abuses of the LRAU and LUV.
The group began legal proceedings more than five years ago, and has convinced the European Commission to take up the case against the Kingdom of Spain over the controversial laws that saw hundreds of expatriate Britons lose their homes.
In their case, the EC stated, that in particular the Valencia region, had failed to fulfil council directives and that the notorious land grab laws had “infringed the Community public procurement directives in various aspects”.
But now, the Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen has argued that key European directives cannot be applied to regional legislation as in the case of the Valencia land laws.
He also added that from his understanding of Spanish, Valencia and EU law, one of the most controversial aspects of the land grab laws – where home or landowners were forced to have their land expropriated or received huge bills for ‘urbanising’ their land – is actually legal.
And while his recommendations are not binding, they have sparked mixed reactions.
According to a statement issued by Charles Svoboda AUN vice-president, the report is “full of errors, omissions and faulty conclusions.”
He said: “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.
“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.”
However politicians in Valencia, who have long denied the property abuses, have welcomed the findings.
Juan Cotino, third regional vice president, responsible for town planning 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.”
Svoboda responded, insisting it’s too early for the Valencia types to declare ‘victory’.
He added: “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 the damage, not those who brought the matters to the EU institutions.”
And in spite of the latest report, the law abuse campaigners have vowed to fight on.