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Europe rejects call for Cyprus fact-finding mission

A call by MEP Daniel Hannan in the European Parliament for a fact-finding mission to Cyprus to investigate the numerous Title Deed problems has been rejected by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission.

In her reply to a call for the European Commission to send a fact-finding mission to Cyprus to investigate the Title Deed problems, Commission Vice-President Mrs Viviane Reding has rejected MEP Daniel Hannan’s request saying that “the Commission has no powers to intervene in this matter”:

Viviane Reding

European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding

The Commission is aware of the difficulties faced by buyers of immovable property in Cyprus in relation to developer mortgages and withheld title deeds. Under the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Commission can only intervene if an issue of European Union law is involved.

As explained in the answer to Written Questions E‑6513/08, E‑6793/08 and E‑0110/09 given by Commissioner McCreevy, the Commission contacted the Cypriot authorities in 2009 asking for detailed information on the situation. Based on the analysis of the reply received, the Commission concluded that the matter falls outside Union law as it concerns the establishment and application of the legal framework governing the acquisition and transfer of immovable properties in Cyprus covered by Article 345 TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

Since the provisions of the TFEU shall in no way prejudice the rules governing the system of property ownership in a Member State, the Commission has no powers to intervene in this matter. For this reason, the Commission is not in a position to organise a fact-finding mission. The Commission believes that the questions raised by the Honourable Member should be addressed to the competent national authorities in Cyprus.

The draft legislation which is said to address and regulate the issue of title deeds is still under negotiation in the Cypriot Parliament.

The Commission trusts that the Cypriot authorities will adopt legislation on this specific matter in conformity with their international obligations, and in particular, the European Convention of Human Rights.

Further reading: Answer to a written question – Cypriot title deeds legislation – E-4116/2010

Readers' comments

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  • divaria says:

    @Crystal,Curmudgeon & other UK nationals in “kyproulla”

    As EU nationals you are entitled to vote in the EU state of residence in local and EU elections (for European Parliament).

    Therefore, those of you resident in kyproulla should be lobbying your CY MEP. A list of them with contact info including email, phone numbers, etc, can be found at the link below:

    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members/expert/groupAndCountry/search.do;jsessionid=459936F6B08C5134F9EAA98E272BBBBA.node1?country=CY&language=EN

    Keep you guys the fingers crossed.

    divaria (not British, not in kyproulla)

  • Bob Briggs says:

    So the EU are still declining to take action against this Cypriot “Government”. Please read the Cyprus Sunday Mail 5-9-2010:”Couple left homeless by Titles Mess”, pages 1 & 2.

  • @Denton Mackrell

    Firstly, my apologies, I reference I gave to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive was incorrect (I have now corrected the reference which should have read 2005/29/EC).

    The ‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC’ and can be found by clicking here.

    UK citizens wishing to bring this matter to the attention of their Euro MPs can find their contact details by clicking here.

    Citizens of other EU member countries can find their MEPs by clicking here

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Thanks Nigel and Jon. So what is the best mechanism for raising such breaches with the EU to ensure an effective outcome and not yet more years of delay and evasion which lead to yet more EC Vice Presidents finally declaring that such unfair commercial practices in Cyprus fall outside the EC’s jurisdiction?

    The EC and EU are now as much on trial as the Cypriot ‘system’ is in the court of public opinion.

  • Bob Briggs says:

    It appears that the EU does not have the guts to tackle the Cyprus government about the title Deeds scandal. So nothing will be done!

    With Disgust!

    Robert Briggs

  • jon frazer says:

    The possibility of obtaining redress through the EU would now seem to be very unlikely on first reading the article and comments. However, I am encouraged by Nigel Howarth’s comment below.

    Many people, ourselves included, were misled not only by omissions, but by downright lies. One of these that is important is the one that appeared regularly in a very glossy publication that told us that “the legal system in Cyprus is based on UK law”. In relation to the issue of title deeds, it bears no relation to UK law. I doubt whether other EU states would allow developers to use withheld title deeds to gamble with buyer’s assets, nor allow the banks to participate in such a practice.

    I agree that this “Unfair commercial practices directive”, Article 7, could be raised in relation to the above issues.

  • @Denton Mackrell

    The ‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive’ – 2005/29/EC makes interesting reading:

    Article 7

    Misleading omissions

    1. A commercial practice shall be regarded as misleading if, in its factual context, taking account of all its features and circumstances and the limitations of the communication medium, it omits material information that the average consumer needs, according to the context, to take an informed transactional decision and thereby causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision that he would not have taken otherwise.

    According to a mini-survey we conducted recently, 1,012 (98%) of the 1,036 people who voted would not have bought a property in Cyprus had they known the land it was built on was mortgaged.

    This fact that this ‘material information’ was omitted leads me to suspect that property developers and their pals in the legal profession are in breach of this Directive.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Two points:

    (1) If the EC is now saying that immovable property issues in member states lie outside the EC’s jurisdiction, how do they explain the Timeshare Directive 2008/122/EC?

    (2) The EC and its VP Mrs Reding are obviously woefully ignorant of the realities in Cyprus, otherwise they would not be so facile as to suggest that instead of with the EC the matter should instead be ‘raised with the competent authorities’ in Cyprus. They clearly don’t know that there are no ‘competent’ authorities in Cyprus. That’s the reason this very mess exists – they are incompetent with no prospect of them suddenly becoming competent.

    Still, I am relishing the prospect of witnessing a pint of scotch and soda gushing from Gandolph’s rear end! Never say never!

  • Spike says:

    I’m afraid that most people are missing the bigger picture.

    Virtually every politician in Europe is seeking enlargement by the entry of Turkey into the European Union within the next five years. This will extend the power of the mandarins in Brussels, increase their budgets and by default, their travel and expense accounts. Of course they will claim that admitting a Muslim country into Europe will reduce the threat of terrorism across the region, provide a key partner in Eastern Europe, which is really Asia, and as many other platitudes as they can muster, but surely anyone with a brain knows better.

    Why do so many failed UK politicians end up sitting in a Brussels “parliament” or cash collection box as it should be known – simple – it’s far easier to cream off the taxpayer’s money on expenses. One Mr. Tony B. Liar (oops)has confirmed that it is OK for politicians to “bend the truth” to achieve a higher goal and we mere mortals are not intelligent enough to be told the truth.

    If the EU actually carry out any real action, rather than bandy words with Cyprus, as a full EU member the Cyprus Government can veto Turkey’s entry, so why would the EU formally alienate Cyprus? There will be a lot of horse trading when it comes to admitting Turkey to the EU and I’m afraid we have just seen the first pony sale.

  • Matt says:

    Yes – you are all on your own! We’ve now heard it straight from the horses mouth. A clear and precise answer – there is absolutely nothing the EU commission can do to help another EU member state on illegal practices when it comes to title deeds and mortgage fraud.

    This message from Viviane Reding is very disturbing and basically tells us that the Cypriot system has more power than we thought they did!

    What the EU commission are doing, is protecting the Cyprus Banks and government from total devastation.

    Think about it… If the EU commission did force Cyprus to clean up it’s act and uphold the law in its entirety, this would cause chaos for Cyprus who I doubt could cope financially.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if people started to boycott Cyprus. Keeping well away from Cyprus for any purchases, including holidays.

    If Cyprus suffered very badly, for say 5yrs…then the government might force a change.

    ..Interesting how the Cypriot Greeks bang on about their EU rights when it comes to property in the North but don’t give a monkeys armpit about ripping off everyone in the South. Including there own people !

  • Gandolph says:

    So Viviane Reding is relying on the government of Cyprus to do the right thing? There’s more chance of my backside delivering a scotch and soda. In a pint mug!!

    This puppet government will do precisiely what the developers and banks tell them. They are too stupid and too greedy to see the bigger picture; if (and that’s an enormous ‘if) they ever get the title deeds debacle dealt with in a manner that is fair to the people who’ve put billions into this country, the economy will start to recover. Surely they must realise people talk to each other and spread the word about how EU citizens are being swindled here? It doesn’t take a genius to realise their whole economy relies not just on business acumen but on the good will that is currently being washed away on a sea of disaproval. There’s only a finite number of people that can be ripped off; what happens when the supply is exhausted?

    But that doesn’t bother this government; they’ll be out of office or out of the country living on their ill gotten gains but what happens to Joe public who’s left behind?

    Surely not everyone is so myopic as to believe that well worn phrase ‘but this is Cyprus’? Surely there are people willing to see what the future holds?

    We’ve all heard the phrase ‘From mules to Mercedes’ but I rather think a future phrase will be ‘from Mercedes to mules’.

  • TRNC victim says:

    Just how can the EU do nothing about the down right fraud being perpetrated on other EU citizens, human rights on this Island both North and South mean nothing, the European Parliament should do what it’s supposed to do and stop giving either side any more money until they have got their houses in order! and cleaned up their corrupt laws!

    The last paragraph is laughable

    “The Commission trusts that the Cypriot authorities will adopt legislation on this specific matter in conformity with their international obligations, and in particular the European Convention of Human Rights”

    Yea Right, How the EU can give money to the unrecognised part of that Country I will never know

  • James JH lockhart says:

    You get the feeling We Are on our own ?

  • Curmudgeon says:

    Competent national authorities in Cyprus…..Mmmm, tough one that but having thought about it for a while I clearly remembered the revenue tax office here in Paphos was rather helpful in lifting a few bob off me.

    Although we all feel better letting off steam using this CPN platform, it scores a fat zero, with Cypriot politicians and/or MEPs. I very much doubt if they see it!

    Would it be possible to have tab “MEPs” (and RoC politicians) added to the CPN tool bar? Within a list of names, positions including e-mail address where possible so we know who to target with our findings.

    Personally, I’d just send them the link to CPN every time it gets sent to me, with permission of course.

  • peter says:

    “competent national authorities in Cyprus” very amusing, more chance of seeing Aphrodite sitting on her rock.

  • Crystal says:

    We must all now email as many MEP’s as you can, telling them the Cypriot government is not conforming to its international obligations, and Denying us our Human Rights under the European Convention of Human Rights, and lodge your objection that they are to take the Presidency of the EU in 2012 when they are allowing EU citizens to be subjected to mass fraud and corruption within the country that the represent.

    We must not take this lying down,they the developers/lawyers and banks will be peeing themselves laughing at us all.

    But we can have the last laugh, who is going to buy a property in a country that’s had all this bad publicity and now the EU said it will not intervene, well would you buy there?

    They may laugh when they read this, but it will do them no favours, they have not won the war yet.!!!

  • andy UK says:

    It is time for the European Parliament to start revising it`s laws then. They seem eager to sit around debating useless issues and spending taxpayers money. Why not do something useful for a change.

    EU Parliament look after your citizens because they elected you!

  • Peter says:

    It makes little difference what the EU decide. The greed by the Government, banks and developers in Cyprus have killed what could have been a ‘golden goose’.

    The word is now out amongst the British buyers, buy in Cyprus and you will be held to ransom and never get ownership of the property you have paid for in full.

    In the meantime sales in Portugal have started to increase, and even in Spain after it has cleaned up its act.

    We have a piece of land in front of our house and the developer is keeping it. “For when the better days return”. Funny man.

  • Eveleigh says:

    What about Article 8 of the ECHR which sets out the right to the peaceful enjoyment of one’s home? What about the people who were driven from their homes by force and are now denied the right to return?

  • paul ruse says:

    The E U can tell us how straight a banana should be. But it cant stop E U citizens being ripped off. This report is almost giving a licence to Cyprus/developers/ lawyers/ estate agents/ and the government to continue to rob us.

    But don’t give up, continue to put pressure onto your Euro MPs. Only by doing this can we win. Perhaps when CPAG returns a test case can be brought in the European courts setting a precedent for all future cases.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    That’s it then. We’re on our own?

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