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Is the EU complicit in property crimes?

Daniel Hannan, MEP for South East England, has raised a question in the European Parliament relating to a complaint raised by Denis O’Hare of the Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG) in 2011.

THE FAILURE of the Cypriot government to comply with its obligations under the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) was the subject of a complaint raised with the European Union by Denis O’Hare of the Cyprus Property Action Group.

In its reply, the European Commission assured Mr O’Hare that:

“Our Unit has recently sent a request for information to the Cypriot authorities via the so-called EU-pilot under the abovementioned file number (CHAP(2011)3252) to investigate the matter. In the letter to the Cypriot authorities, we have requested explanations as to the actions carried out at national level to address the reported practices and ensure an appropriate protection of European consumers.

“The Cypriot authorities have until January 2012 to submit a reply. Further action will depend on this reply”.

Frustrated by the lack of progress, MEP Daniel Hannan has raised a question in the European Parliament:

Question for written answer E-009932/2012
to the Commission

Rule 117
Daniel Hannan (ECR)

Subject: Justice for property buyers in Cyprus

Tens of thousands of property buyers in Cyprus have developer mortgages on their homes thanks to the corrupt actions of property developers, banks and lawyers. The Government of Cyprus is complicit in these crimes owing to its failure to publicise and enforce the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), as per official complaint CHAP(2011)3252.

Unless the Commission punishes the Cypriot Government for this and offers redress to the victims, is it not also complicit in these crimes?

Readers' comments

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  • janner says:

    I’ve spent this evening writing to my MP, MEP and Vivian Reding. I would urge everyone to do the same. It is the only way. Cyprus will not deal with it themselves. Even if the EC is a wet fish Westminster may be willing to make a stand for UK citizens. We all have to try, rather than just moaning about the EC, Cyprus blah blah blah. Send the letters then moan!

    The last sentence in the post made by ‘fighting for justice’ says it all.

    People pressure can bring about change. There are lots of clever people knocking about on this website and within other groups. There are many who have put an awful lot of time and effort into fighting our cause. The least we can do is all show our support. Just send the letters!

  • Diane says:

    After thought to my previous comment the first line of my letter to Viviane Reding will read we the undersigned lend our support to Daniel Hannan etc etc and I will get people to sign it.

  • Diane says:

    I agree with Janner that people like Daniel Hannan and Bill cash need our full support, they are after all fighting for us, I will be sending the following letter by recorded delivery to Viviane Reding,Vice President, Commissioner for Justice EU, and will be asking everybody I know to follow suit. Please all of you caught up in this mess do the same, as janner says the more people involved means a bigger voice, which means (hopefully) that we are too loud to be ignored!

    Viviane Reding
    Vice President, Commissioner for Justice
    DG Justice
    European Commission
    Brussels B-1049

    16 November 2012

    Dear Commissioner Reding

    Subject Justice for property buyers in Cyprus

    I wish to lend my support to Daniel Hannan MEP (ECR) and the question he has raised E-009932/2012 Rule 117, which relates to the tens of thousands of property buyers in Cyprus who have developer mortgages on their homes thanks to the corrupt actions of property developers, banks and lawyers and that the Government of Cyprus is complicit in the crimes owing to its failure to enforce the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD as per official complaint CHAP(2011)3252.

    As one of these buyers I kindly urge you as EU Commissioner for Justice to respond promptly to the question and to punish the Cyprus government for this and to offer redress to the victims.

    Finally remembering that thousands of people are at risk of losing their homes because of these corrupt actions.

    Thank you for your attention in this matter.

    Yours sincerely,

    etc etc

  • janner says:

    If each country can pick and choose which bit of EU legislation it recognises then there is nothing to stop Westminster from saying that the UK does not recognise European Enforcement Orders from Cyprus. Cyprus would get in a huff. They would send a question through the EC (like Daniel Hannan did) and we (Westminster) wouldn’t bother to reply and no one would chase it up either (including the EC)!

    Its a fantastic system. I really cannot understand why the EU doesn’t work beautifully in a political/legal and fiscal sense (sarcasm).

    Seriously, if this is how it works and how it is allowed to work then it really is a huge waste of time and money trying to make the EU countries all sing from the same hymn sheet!

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Steve, I think you’re being a bit harsh on lotteries there, if you don’t mind me saying it!

  • Steve says:

    Fighting for Justice draws a very important distinction when differentiating between the politicians and the courts. Politicians make the laws and the courts apply them. Contrast the optimism on this web site when the application of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive was announced with today’s comments. Now there’s a lot more gloom and despondency mixed in with the usual fighting talk.

    Yes, it’s true that the EU has rapped the odd knuckle about non-conformance with regulations. Even Cyprus had to toe the line eventually on VAT on property sales, but every time I see a sentence being started with “Surely” or “Obviously, it reminds me that Europe is a mish-mash of very different people and they are not all like the Brits. I lived in some -and worked in most -of the mainland European countries and I know from experience that their beliefs and attitudes that make their opinions about right and wrong and important and not important are often different from what we Brits expect. You will see this in Cyprus everywhere if you look for it. This is not an exclusive list, but from my experience the Northern Europeans generally behave as Brits expect and the Southern Europeans decide on an issue-by-issue basis, depending on who or what is involved. This makes the EU a multicultural society which decides by voting. Dictatorships have worked better. To expect the EU to fix the problems here is a form of denial of the reality. The only way is the courts – and if I were you I would stick to the North European courts unless the thought of a lottery excites you.

  • MarkD says:

    They simply do what they want with no redress!!!! It drives me mad! Why are they even considering bailing this country out???

  • Adrian says:

    The Cypriot attitude is that if I ignore you you will give up and go away and if you don’t go away I will move you further down the waiting list and no good complaining to my boss ‘cos he is my brother in law !!

  • Fighting For Justice says:

    I don’t think I need to say that I am all for any initiative that brings about a resolution to this nightmare for so many, myself included.

    However it needs to be remembered that in the great scheme of things EU Law is relatively new. English common law is hundreds of years old and many areas are still to be incorporated into legislation. EU Law depends largely on individual initiative and those who are prepared to go all the way in suing states who fail to implement Directives.

    EU Law is supreme and trumps all national laws of Member States but who is going to actually take on Cyprus in the courts? Who has deep enough pockets? Senor Costa in Italy was one such individual who took Italy on in the courts. He went all the way over a £6 electricity bill which was contrary to EU law but was passed by the Italian government. The judgment in this case provides an important precedent.

    Who is going to do this in Cyprus? The problem of course is that Cyprus courts are not sufficiently independent from Parliament and the two are too closely aligned but there still has to exist that challenge.

    The European Commission will punish errant Member States but the wheels turn too slowly without mass pressure and too many are content to sit back and let others do it for them and throw out jibes when their unsupported pressure fails.

  • Uboat says:

    Agree… Yes they are
    I also sent a email to my local MP and MEP and Have had No acknowledgement out reply what so ever. I Bet their all in on it…..

  • Martyn says:

    The short answer of course is Yes…………

    But then: in overall EU terms:

    How much of a Prority is Cyprus?

    How ‘efficient’ is Cyprus government In progressing ‘sensitive issues’???

    How efficient is the expensive EU bureaucracy in dealing with relatively ‘small’ issues such as this?.

    3 extremely Low scores on all of the above!

    I am, thankfully, in no way caught up in the unholy mess which has been allowed to develop but I am ready willing and able to join those who are in seeking, SHOUTING, for Justice on these matters. The institutionalised skulduggery of the past is now seriously poisoning the whole Cyprus property markets, which affects all of us one way or others, and will hamper the ‘recovery’ of the Cyprus economy from its current free-fall towards economic oblivion, long before the gas revenues start to flow, even if they are managed properly!

    Slowly, progress is being made to get change, redress on these inter-twined property, legal, financial matters but the many affected need to work much harder to coordinate their efforts, make real impacts, this to me seems to be the only way – higher profile Actions, lobby every MEP, UK MP: bombard the Cyprus government and professions, key influencers with queries, demands, actions: the whole issue however needs LOTS of the affected people getting behind these initiatives, needs a real CHAMPION, or two, or three,

    I sense there is a long, long way to go on all this: being brutally frank I sense we are still close to the beginning. There are less than 2 months of the Cyprus Presidency remaining, and several weeks of this most of Europe shuts down for Christmas etc. so, just a few weeks remain to make a BIG impact via the Presidency, rocket these issues up the EU Agendas, get them addressed as part of the near certain brutal austerity and regulatory matters which are now under the microscopes – for unless the Troika people are completely blind, they MUST by now know pretty much what has been going on and been planning how to address the impacts.

  • janner says:

    If the EU is complicit in these crimes then who do we badger next?

    One good thing about this saga is that I’ve learnt a lot. If I ever get out of this mess I will go back to staying in my bubble and trust no one when it comes to money!

    I must be naive as I really thought being a Brit and a member of the EU gave me some protection, legal/moral authority, something that other countries aspire to. How wrong I was.

    If the EU doesn’t deal with this then we all may as well join the crooks as they seem to have the easy ride.

  • Peter Davis says:

    You have to understand the nature of the beast.

    The EU is good at making regulations such as those dealing with bendy bananas, or the size of cucumbers.

    It is good at dealing with compliant states such as the UK that asks “How High” when told to jump.

    It cannot deal with member states who are slippery, sneaky, devious and Machiavellian which fail to comply with regulations like a petulant child.

    That is why the Cyprus will win this round hands-down.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    I think the short answer must be ‘TES’.

  • janner says:

    I’ve just sent an email to my MEP via the ‘writetothem’ website asking her to contact Sir Graham Watson and Daniel Hannan in an attempt to if some sort of united effort could be made by all UK MEP’s, similar to what Bill Cash is organising. I don’t know the European Parliament works this way but there is no harm in asking!

    I’m sure that everyone reading this website is reading it because they are caught up in this terrible mess. You all need to contact your MP and MEP in an attempt to co-ordinate political pressure on Cyprus and David Cameron for that matter to ensure that our interests are protected.

    I’ve said it before, the more people involved means a bigger voice, which means (hopefully) that we are too loud to be ignored!

  • janner says:

    Good question Daniel!

    What I find amazing is how long organisations have to answer questions. In my line of work if you were supposed to reply by January 2012 and hadn’t you would be out of a job! Also, is the EC not keeping a record of the questions they have asked? Did they not realise they hadn’t received a reply from Cyprus? Or maybe they just don’t care for the answer!

    People like Daniel Hannan and Bill Cash need our full support people!

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