Spain to take Britain to court over Gibraltar vote
27 June 2005, LONDON — Spain is taking Britain to the European Court of Justice next week in a new spat over Gibraltar that could leave a million Commonwealth citizens in Britain without the right to vote.
27 June 2005
LONDON — Spain is taking Britain to the European Court of Justice next week in a new spat over Gibraltar that could leave a million Commonwealth citizens in Britain without the right to vote.
Lord Goldsmith, QC, the British attorney general, will be defending the government's position at the hearing in Luxembourg, to be held just five days after Britain takes over the EU presidency, The Daily Telegraph reports.
The row began in 1999 when Denise Matthews, then 24 and living in Gibraltar, persuaded the European Court of Human Rights that she had the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament because it had a say in European Union laws that applied on the Rock, an independent territory of Britain.
Spain objected to giving Gibraltar its own MEP, and Britain announced that the electorate could vote as part of a UK constituency, and would include "qualifying Commonwealth citizens" - those who do not need a permit to live in the country.
At the hearing, Spain will argue that the Gibraltar electorate should have been restricted to EU citizens.
That might affect 100 people in Gibraltar, but about one million people in Britain, mainly of Indian or Pakistani origin.
The Government will try to head off a ruling depriving them of a vote at European elections. It says it is entitled under EU rules to hold elections in accordance with its own traditions.
At European Parliament elections last year, Gibraltar voted with Devon and Cornwall as part of the south-west England constituency.
Spain complains that this is also contrary to EU law, arguing that the Gibraltar electorate could have been given a vote without incorporating its territory into a region.
But Britain says that is impossible in a constituency system where electors can vote only for candidates in the area where they live. A ruling is expected by next year.
Subject: Spanish news