First of all, thank you for writing to expose the situation regarding the application of Spanish Coastal Law in Santa Margarita. I have received several similar letters about this issue, and I am glad of your initiative as I believe that this entails a true European dimension.
The text below has been written in coordination with my two green colleaugies Raul Romeva (Spain-Catalunya) and Margrete Auken (Danmark) who deal directly with the issue.
The application of Law 22/1988, of July 28, of Coasts is actually a highly complex issue, which deserves to be properly examined from a juridical point of viewParticularly, in our scope of action within the European Parliament, to deal effectively with this case we need to identify carefully concrete and solid links with the European legislation, so that we can call the European Commission to activated the institutional mechanisms foreseen in case of violation of the EU Treaties. Since the enforcement of the Treaty of Lisbon we have the Charter of Fundamental Rights as fully legally binding. However, it is only binding on the member states when these apply EU law, that is, when the national or regional legislation concerned is based on European legislation. This makes the above mentioned assessment more complicated, particularly when related to a Law adopted in 1988.
Nevertheless, within the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament we have always been quite sensitive to the topic, and we have given a clear European dimension to it, as shown by the report on the Impact of extensive urbanisation in Spain on individual rights of European citizens, on the environment and on the application of EU law (P6_TA(2009)0192) drafted by our group member Margrete Auken, and adopted by the European Parliament in March 2009. Of course, it is a complex issue for us, as the situation of massive urbanistic abuse of the Spanish coastal line during decades by generally irresponsible authorities at different levels has eventually lead to a clash between the urgent need to protect the damaged coastal ecosystems and the protection of individual rights such as property. This last is clearly part of the fundamental rights that Greens have been historically struggling to guarantee from the front line, being usually the main opposition to lack of transparency and abuses of power. .
Therefore, while our group sees a clear need to legislation protecting the coast, we are concerned by recurring reports from citizens about what they consider arbitrary application of the Spanish coastal law. We have opened a discussion on the proper way to approach this important issue, with the aim of providing a fair position that reconciles legitimate property rights claim with the necessary consideration of the general interest, and how to deal with it within the European framework.
However, we are against unfair expropriations of the homes of persons who did not contravene the law, and believe that this must at least be accompanied by appropriate compensation. We consider that when measures genuinely need to be taken in order to protect the coast, this should be done transparently, objectively, and in full respect of legal safeguards.
Thank you once more for coming to us with this case, and do not hesitate to come back with further information. We will follow it with attention.
Bart Staes, MEP
Raul Romeva, MEP
Margete Auken, MEP