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ECJ Rules In Favour Of Gibraltar In EU Voting Dispute

by Jason Gorringe, Tax-News.com, London

15 September 2006


The European Court of Justice has rejected Spain's argument that electoral laws in Gibraltar, which allow some non-EU citizens to vote in European Parliament elections, violated EU law.

According to the ECJ's decision, Britain must decide for itself whether to allow non-EU citizens to vote in European elections, stating that there is no specific definition in EU treaties of who is entitled to vote.

Spain filed the court action last year, claiming that as some Gibraltarians are not EU citizens they should not be allowed to vote for members of the European Parliament or stand for election themselves.

The European Court of Justice also rejected another part of Spain's case which suggested Britain had acted illegally by including Gibraltar in its voting districts for European Parliament elections. The court said Britain had an obligation to extend voting rights to British citizens in Gibraltar.

Gibraltar was included within the UK's South Western constituency for the 2004 elections to the European Parliament.

Following Tuesday's decision, South West and Gibraltar MEP Graham Watson stated:

"It comes as a fitting conclusion to Gibraltar's National Day celebrations that the European Court of Justice has thrown out a spurious Spanish assault on Gibraltar's sovereignty."

The ECJ's ruling was also welcomed by the government of Gibraltar, which said in a statement that: "the outcome of this case now definitively brings these issues to a conclusion in totally satisfactory terms for Gibraltar".


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