The European Commission has threatened to sanction Spain because of the controversial land laws of the Valencian regional government. The EC claims that the LRAU, as the Valencian land laws are called, fail to respect European Community Law governing procedures that should be used when giving public contracts for major urban developments.
The EC criticises the fact that the Valencian regional and municipal authorities do not publish tenders in the BOE (Spain’s official state bulletin where all state tenders, nominations, exam results etc. must be published) or in the Official European Journal which publishes all public tenders held in member states.
According to the EC, failure to publish tenders in both official publications has led to “opaque and damaging actions being carried out against the interests of the landowners”. The verdict has been made in response to a legal charge submitted to the European Commission by the organization “Abusos Urbanisticos No” which was formed to fight the Valencian law and has 15,000 members, most of them owners of property whose land has been or could be affected by the LRAU.
In the next few weeks a number of Euro-MPs are going to visit the Valencian Region to meet with members of the organisation aswell as with members of the Valencian Regional Government who, until now, had refused to modify the land law.
The website of the British Embassy in Spain offers the following warning to potential buyers of property in Spain: “Buyers of property in the Valencian Autonomous Community should be aware that under the Valencian Government’s Ley Reguladora de la Actividad Urbanística of 1994, all land may be converted for property development, unless it has been deemed no urbanizable on historical, cultural or ecological grounds. This means that even suelo rústico (rural land) may be re-designated as fit for property development if the town hall approves a developer’s plan for such change of use.
Land classed as urbanizable is also, by definition, appropriate for development. It is therefore important, when buying property, to check future development plans at the town hall. This is also advisable even where land is already deemed to be urbano, since only by checking the status of the property can one become aware of the implications of likely future developments“.
The European Commission has sent the Spanish government a 13-page long report explaining its verdict and has given authorities 2 months to respond. Meanwhile, the regional Valencian Territorial Department released a statement yesterday saying that the EC report confirmed the need to design a new urban law which, according to the statement, the regional government has been working on for the past few months.
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