Commission issues guidelines
Restrictions on sale of agricultural land

The European Commission has issued guidelines to help their Member States protect agricultural land from threats such as excessive price speculation and concentration of ownership. EU Member States have the right to restrict the sale of arable land to preserve rural communities and promote sustainable agriculture. However, they must comply with EU law, in particular the rules on the free movement of capital.

In 2015, the Commission initiated infringement proceedings against a number of Member States which had discriminated against investors from other EU countries and had placed undue obstacles to cross-border investment.

In yesterday's communication, the Commission gives the Member States information on what they can do on the basis of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union to regulate the sale of agricultural land.

Cornerstones of the Commission's guidelines

The guidelines clarify how Member States are empowered to adopt measures to curb the sale of agricultural land. As clarified by the Court of Justice of the European Union, some restrictions may be acceptable under certain conditions:

However, EU law does not allow for discriminatory restrictions such as general residence regulations as a prerequisite for the purchase of land.

Disproportionate restrictions on cross-border investment are unlawful. According to the law, the following are disproportionate:

Yesterday's communication is the result of a request from the European Parliament last March, calling on the Commission to establish clear and comprehensive criteria for the regulation of the land sales market in order to ensure a level playing field in line with EU law.


Publication date: 10/18/2017

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