Tuesday, 19 January 2010

"Auken Report", which recommended EU sanctions against Spain if it did not act on illegal building and urban abuse

Margarite Auken, Danish MEP for the Green party and author of the controversial "Auken Report", which recommended EU sanctions against Spain if it did not act on illegal building and urban abuse, demanded yesterday in open parliamentary session that the EU ask for an official report from Madrid on how it will protected property rights for people who have purchased illegal homes.
The question, directed to the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, coincided with the appearance in front of the EU Parliament of Spanish President Zapatero, who was in Brussels to explain the six month Spanish programme for the EU. Spain took over the rotating presidency of the EU on the 1st of January 2010.
During her question, Ms Auken referred to the "worrying facts" revealed by her report. The Auken Report was approved by the EU in March 2009. "Spain has permitted a culture of endemic corruption to build up around construction" she said.It revealed to the EU the wide range of issues in Spain that has permitted the construction of hundreds of thousands of homes without any permits whatsoever.President Buzek did not reply immediately to the question, but is expected to give a response in the next few days."Many Spanish citizens feel that they must quietly accept fraud and corruption from building companies who can expel them from their homes without any compensation" said Ms Auken.Ms Auken pointed out that the Spanish government has so far refused to give an official reply to the Auken report and so she believes the time has come for the EU to officially demand a reply to the report.The report recommends EU sanctions against Spain if it does not act to tackle urban abuse and property instability in the region.
Willie Meyers, the Izquierda Unida MEP for Andalucia, also used the opportunity to attack the Spanish government for urban abuse.

The Reader recently had an exclusive interview with Mr Meyers when he visited Almeria during a fact finding mission on urban abuse in the province (An interview with MEP Willie Meyers ) where he explained his horror at what he had discovered.Mr Meyers's office has sent an official request to a number of Spanish departments within the Junta de Andalucia and the Spanish government to ask what, if any, notice they have taken of the Auken report.Mr Meyers has also bought the specific example of the Almanzora Valley to the attention of interested parliamentary groups within the EU.Meyer's office released a statement saying "he condemned the many examples of urban abuse produced by rampant and uncontrolled development over the last few years" and saying that innocent home owners must be protected at all costs.Meanwhile, Michael Cashman MEP, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Zapatero. Mr Cashman was one of the MEPs who asked for a European Parliamentary resolution to get Spain to put its house in order given the enormous number of petitions and complaints about building, environmental and urban abuses it had received. According to Mr Cashman there have been over 15,000 petitions as well as a daily flood of letters on this matter.

Councils on the Costa del Sol are urging foreign residents to register on the municipal electoral roll.

Many councils in Malaga fear tens of thousands of unregistered residents live in certain municipalities: in the case of Marbella, with an electoral roll of 140,000 people from 137 different nationalities, it is thought a further 100,000 people live without registering.
The failure to register means councils are losing money, as the Spanish state gives subsidies to each municipality based on the size of its electoral roll.
Marbella tourism councillor, José Luis Hernández, said: “The fact both Spanish and foreign residents fail to register on the electoral roll here helps to collapse our public services. It is because of this that we have half the police, hospitals, courts, schools and taxis that we really need for a town of this size.”

snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada 3 metres of snow cover over the ski terrain

2 hours from Spain’s Costa del Sol are the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada , Europe’s Southern-most ski resort.December saw the heaviest rain for 50 years fall on the Costa del Sol, officially ending five years of drought in the region and filling the reservoirs to capacity. Although it meant a wet Christmas for Costa del Sol residents, it has led to wonderful conditions in the nearby mountains with the resort management, Cetursa SA, announcing an impressive 3 metres of snow cover over the ski terrain. They are working hard to piste the new snow and hope to have all the runs open soon. To find out the latest information on the state of the pistes visit the British Ski Centre website.If you want to enjoy both the skiing and the warmth of the seaside, you should consider basing yourself on the Costa del Sol and taking a day trip up to the mountains. Alternatively, you could do a two centre holiday and stay in the mountains for one night (be warned the accommodation is expensive) and then move down to the Costa del Sol to relax before heading home.

Treasure of incalculable value has lain just off La Manga.

Buried beneath shells, rocks and sand, for 2,600 years, while the construction boom has been completely changing the surrounding landscape, a treasure of incalculable value has lain just off La Manga. 26 centuries later, archaeologists from eleven countries are bringing these antique objects to the light of day once again. The find appears to be the cargo of a commercial ship carrying ivory from African elephants, amber and lots of ceramic objects. The find has been kept secret for the past three years by the team of divers led by the Spaniard Juan Pinedo Reyes and the American Mark Edward Polzer. The recovery project is being financed by National Geographic, who have reached an agreement with the Spanish Minister of Culture, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the University A&M of Texas. The recovery is taking place around Grosa Island and El Farallon Island, just off La Manga. Over the last three years 1,400 objects have been collected. Even some of the wood from the bottom of the ship has survived since the 7th Century before Christ (620 BC), and has been recovered. It is believed the vessel measured approximately 15 metres long.

The find has been described as one of the most important of all archaeological discoveries. The Ivory tusks measure between 70 and 150 centimetres, with Phoenician writing inscribed. They have come from a race of elephants which are now believed to be extinct. There are also copper ingots and stones containing silver and lead. Ceramic pots which were used for transporting fish and oil have been found too, as well as plates, bowls, combs, ivory knife handles, bronze needles and chandeliers.

It is believed the ship crashed into rocks off the island, which are just a metre and a half below the surface. The ship would have set sail from Cadiz, and was probably heading towards Guardamar to a factory there, or to deliver items to a prince living in the area.

Spain is complaining" about the rule, "as more and more northern Europeans choose to retire along its Mediterranean coast."

"Most countries in the European Union offer universal health coverage for their citizens. And when a citizen from one EU country travels to, or lives in another one, they also are covered. But now Spain is complaining" about the rule, "as more and more northern Europeans choose to retire along its Mediterranean coast." NPR likens the situation along Spain's Costa del Sol to that of Florida, where many U.S. seniors with costly health problems retire (Socolovsky, 1/19). SiMAP union, representing public health doctors in Spain, said non-Spanish EU nationals in Alicante, which has a large British expat community, account for 15-20 per cent of hospital admissions. Criticism is not directed at those who register their residency status and pay taxes, but at expats in the black economy who expect to get treatment by producing a European Health Insurance Card (Ehic), which is designed for the emergency care of holidaymakers. many thousands of Britons who regularly flip between homes in Britain and Iberia are also thought to arrange trips according to where they may get the best treatment, or jump waiting lists. Politicians have been concerned about healthcare "freeloaders" for several years, but Spanish doctors have been more muted. They have to decide what is "emergency" treatment and what isn't and, according to anecdotal reports, have tended to take the patient's word.
But Spain's health budget is as much under pressure as the NHS and the SiMAP move reflects fears among Spanish doctors of further belt-tightening. Cutbacks are bound to raise questions about the availability of resources for patients. The Spanish regions – which are autonomous in matters of health provision – have moved to prevent foreign nationals exploiting "free" healthcare. The last to take this step was Valencia. Two months ago, it introduced measures by which expatriates below retirement age and not registered as employed would no longer get free access.
They are now paying a €90 (£80) monthly tax, which will cease once they reach retirement age. The move brings Valencia into line with the rest of Spain – and France, where President Sarkozy took similar steps in 2007. But thousands of British men under 65 and women under 60 are still thought to be working unregistered in Valencia, the Costa del Sol and other expat

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