WORLD NEWS TOMORROW -A senior EU commissioner has backed steps to shore up the rights of homeowners on the Spanish coast. The Spanish government plans to protect EU citizens who invested in property, but faced ruin after it emerged homes had been built illegally.

Spain is home to around 2.3 million citizens from other EU countries, or five per cent of the population. This includes around 367,000 British, 238,000 Germans, 225,000 French, 99,000 Italians, 52,000 Dutch and 17,000 Irish.

On Thursday, Viviane Reding, commission vice-president for justice and fundamental rights, welcomed the Spanish move, saying, “The new Spanish law aims to improve legal certainty for European citizens and businesses.”

“It can also improve their confidence when investing in a foreign legal environment. This is good news for citizens, but also the Spanish economy.”

Hundreds of pensioners from the UK and elsewhere purchased villas and apartments in Spain, but faced being left out of pocket by the country’s ‘coastal law’ (Ley de Costas).

Many of the homes were built by developers in areas protected by the law, which is aimed at guarding stretches of coastline. Regional governments stepped in and said they would bulldoze many homes because they breached planning rules.

However, a reform to the law is now being proposed after lobbying from the European commission. Further comment on the issue came from UK MEP Catherine Bearder, who said, “Thousands of EU citizens moved to Spain for a quiet retirement in the sun and spent their nest eggs in good faith.

“The Spanish government is right to protect its coastline, but I also applaud the care it is now taking to improve legal certainty for citizens who own, or plan to own, property.

“The preliminary draft law is available online and I want to make sure everyone with an interest in the issue understands the changes and has a say,” added the Alde deputy.

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