It is regrettably the fact that this revision of the Coastal Law has largely failed to enhance legal certainty over property rights which is an absolute requirement of any sustainable housing market. In addition, the fact that the demarcation line is potentially subject to revision every time there is a shift in the line of the coast (from coastal erosion for example, or from the construction of a new marina) creates additional uncertainty as what may be legal today may not be so tomorrow.
As has been said also, concessions are not considered by most members to be a fair compensation for the potential loss of value of private properties owned in the newly established public domain
Bearing these conclusions in mind, and having regard for the extensive discussions within the working group and amongst members of the delegation which visited Madrid on this subject the following recommendations are made.
1. The protection of the Spanish coastal area and the protection of properties in this coastal area shall be liable to a proportionate balancing of legally protected interests.
2. Recognizes that the Spanish Government has already made a significant effort by approving a new coastal law which solves most of the outstanding problems, such as the defenceless situation in which EU citizens might find themselves when building out of good will and to reconcile the protection of the Spanish coastline with economic growth, and thus to provide greater legal certainty for property owners.
3. Calls upon the European Commission to examine the compliance of this new legislation with EU law.
4. Reminds that the European Commission's Communication to Members has always pointed out that the “system of property ownership” remains the competence of the member state and that the Commission can only intervene in circumstances where there has been an alleged breach of EU law.
5. Encourages the Spanish authorities at national level to work with the Autonomous Regions and local authorities to promote, preserve, and where possible to regenerate, the coastal environmental areas which have been seriously degraded as a result of construction works and building projects, some of which have been of proven illegality. Protected coastal areas should not be used for constructing new properties, buildings or dwellings, as the prevailing purpose of the law is the sustainable management of the Spanish coast, understood as the protection of its diverse naturally valuable and sensitive ecosystems.
6. Urges the Spanish authorities to establish a full and fair financial compensation scheme for all legal property owners whose homes may be subject to demolition or expropriation as a result of the application of the Ley de Costas.
7. Calls on the Spanish authorities to grant a compensation that reflects the value of the property of people concerned by the Ley de Costas, instead of granting a concession.
8. Regarding properties described as 'illegal buildings' in or near the coastal zones which have been sold to unwitting European citizens, including Spanish citizens, exhorts the Spanish judicial authorities to investigate and pursue those private agents or public authorities which have acted outside of the formal legal framework in attributing and
acquiring spurious building rights and to bring them more swiftly to justice, while ensuring that the victims of such operations, who bought their properties in good faith, are entitled to full and fair compensation from the Spanish authorities.
9. Calls upon the authorities to issue clear guidelines to all regional and local authorities, based upon objective and non-discretionary criteria, regarding the attribution of concessions to existing legitimate property owners who own dwellings within the coastal zones, ensuring a fair and uniform application of the law. Reiterates nevertheless the Committee's strong reservations about the existence of such concessions.
10. As regards the delimitation of the public domain, urges the authorities to apply objective technical criteria and to ensure, where derogations may need to be applied, that these are justified in a clear and transparent manner which in every case is related to enhanced environmental protection.
11. Calls for a moratorium or freeze on all cases pending before the courts concerning dwellings located in coastal areas subject to possible modification of the demarcation line in order to preserve from eventual demolition buildings which could afterwards fall outside the public domain.
12. Calls upon the property register and cadastral records to be brought up-to-date swiftly
and accurately, ensuring that all owners of property within the demarcation zones are properly informed about their rights and the means of access to justice should they believe this is necessary in order to protect their legitimate interests. Changes in the cadastral registry may only be made if the concerned holders of property have had the chance to gain knowledge thereof.
13. Calls upon the authorities to further clarify the distinction between natural and urban beaches and to take measures to effectively prevent the encroachment of urban beaches into the natural beach classified zones.
14. Reiterates its call for justice to be effective and timely, considering that excessive delays in the administration of justice is itself an unacceptable injustice. Within this context, where court proceedings are opened, urges all parties and public authorities to be aware of the possible usefulness of requests for preliminary rulings addressed to the European Court of Justice, in order to obtain reliable interpretations of central issues under European legislation in cases before the national courts, and to ensure that a corresponding application gives legal entitlements under European law to the applying parties.
15. Points out that the prospect of long-lasting legal proceedings inhibits concerned owners to go to the Spanish Courts. Therefore, suspensory measures should be considered in court rulings on property issues.
16. Calls on the European Commission to investigate the question of what actual obstacles lie in the way for EU citizens to effectively make use of the instrument of preliminary rulings from the European Court of Justice; recalls the European Parliament resolution of 21 November 2012 on the activities of the Committee on Petitions 2011.
17. Welcomes the recognition of climate-change in the new coastal legislation, and the need to adapt coastal management to its inevitable effects.
18. Protected areas that are declared as such, under EU or national law, are supposed to be protected as said in the relevant legislation, instead of rebuilding property on that ground.
19. Calls on the European Commission to verify the compliance with European public procurement law when public infrastructure is built on expropriated properties.