what was at stake
green position
what we achieved
what we did not achieve

Spanish Coastal Law (Ley de Costas)

Parliament's Committee on Petitions (PETI) produced a report on Spanish coastal Law, which designates the coast as a public domain and applies special restrictions to private ownership in another zone, too.

The law aims to make the entire coastline accessible to the public and to defend it against erosion and excessive urbanisation.

The law's enactment in 1988 prompted no fewer than 76 petitions all along the Spanish coast.

Early in 2012, PETI set up a special working group to deal with the issue. Since then, the new Spanish government has revised the original law, which targeted small property owners, who were stripped of their ownership rights and offered, as compensation, a 30-year concession for use of their property.

Ecologists initially applauded such a measure owing to the pressing need to protect Spain's threatened coastal ecosystem.


What was the Greens' position?

The Greens believe it is important to preserve unique, sensitive ecosystems along Spain's Mediterranean coast.

We believe that environmental protection - when adequately defined and not used as a pretext for speculative activities - is in citizens' interest and should take precedence over individuals' private rights, including those relating to property located in the public domain.

Nevertheless, we also believe that owners deprived of actual real estate that was legitimately constructed or acquired in good faith must be fairly compensated, based on its original value.

Certainly, clear criteria must be set to avoid any form of discrimination.


Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?

The Greens helped Parliament to produce a more balanced opinion that weighed the concerns of property owners against the environmental threats faced.

All stakeholders agreed that the revised law adopted by the Spanish government is an inappropriate instrument both for offering greater legal security and for improving the protection of the Spanish coast.

In fact, the compromise solution it proposes actually eases the provisions on environmental protection and appears to be geared towards increasing economic activity in coastal areas, including a new construction boom!

Having gained some expertise on the subject, especially after her investigation during the previous term of Parliament of abuses of urban planning legislation in Spain, Green deputy Margrete Auken drafted an opinion, which Parliament adopted in plenary in 2009.


Which points did the Greens lose?

Despite regular consideration of the issue by PETI's special working group and notwithstanding efforts made to enter into a dialogue with the competent Spanish authorities to incite them to incorporate Parliament's concerns into the new bill, little effective cooperation resulted and the law was finally adopted by the Spanish parliament in May 2013 without any input from Parliament.

Contrary to what had been originally agreed, due to strident opposition from the EPP and S&D, no vote on the report will be taken in plenary.


Procedure:Fact finding mission


Lead MEP:Margarete Auken (GREENS/EFA)

Green MEP responsible:Margarete Auken


Staff contact:Marc Gimenéz (Email)