Josep Melià, leader of El Pi. | @ElPi_IB

Josep Melià is the leader of El Pi, a regionalist party of the centre right in the Balearics. On Tuesday, he presented eighteen proposals to the Balearic parliament in a debate about overpopulation on the islands. One of these had to do with the purchase of homes by foreigners. Parliament approved the El Pi proposal for a five-year residency qualification for foreign buyers. This approval called on the Balearic government to press for such a system of qualification, something that the regional government has no powers to impose and which could only be introduced with the agreement of both the Spanish government and Brussels.

Melià says that this is one approach for addressing the challenges posed by population growth. "We cannot continue doing what we have done until now and we must try new things. With this limitation, many foreigners would not come to reside here and the price of housing would not be so expensive, which is what causes many young people to not be able to access decent housing."

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"European regulations must be changed. That is why in our motion, and this is the important point, we urge the European Union to apply a specific regime for island territories. It is a proposal that would require changes to European legislation, so that island territories have room to solve specific problems. There is the precedent of Finland and Denmark. When these countries joined the European Union, their accession treaties included exceptions for islands, and so there are islands with restrictions on the sale of property. And this happens in a free market, civilised and capitalist Europe.

"We are a fairly liberal party and we are clear that the free market is the system that governs us. However, there are mechanisms for when imperfections occur. That is why there is a markets and competition commission; it is there to correct imperfections that occur in the market. If one of these imperfections is overpopulation, as is the case in the Balearics, and this prevents the right to access a home, blurs the right to education, affects health and social cohesion, we must find systems to correct it."