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The Gibraltar case. A critical test of rules concerning EU citizenship and franchise in elections to the European Parliament.

Karvonen, Malin (2006)
Department of Law
Abstract
This study explores the link between EU citizenship and the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament. It does so through the so-called ''Gibraltar-case'', C-145/04, at the time of writing still pending before the European Court of Justice. Spain alleges that the United Kingdom has infringed EC law through enacting the European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003 in which the right to vote in European Parliamentary elections is granted to the people of Gibraltar. The United Kingdom electoral legislation grants franchise to Commonwealth citizens, even if they are not nationals of the United Kingdom. This means that non-EU citizens living in Gibraltar can vote in EP elections, as long as they qualify as Commonwealth citizens.... (More)
This study explores the link between EU citizenship and the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament. It does so through the so-called ''Gibraltar-case'', C-145/04, at the time of writing still pending before the European Court of Justice. Spain alleges that the United Kingdom has infringed EC law through enacting the European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003 in which the right to vote in European Parliamentary elections is granted to the people of Gibraltar. The United Kingdom electoral legislation grants franchise to Commonwealth citizens, even if they are not nationals of the United Kingdom. This means that non-EU citizens living in Gibraltar can vote in EP elections, as long as they qualify as Commonwealth citizens. Spain is of the opinion that franchise cannot be given to individuals who lack EU-citizenship without a decision on Community level. The traditional approach is to leave problems regarding who is to be considered a citizen of a Member State completely to the discretion of that Member State. Citizenship is an issue that seem to lie close to the very core of state sovereignty and talk about harmonisation of legislation in the area of citizenship is politically sensitive. Every person who is a national of a Member State is a citizen of the Union, according to EC law. It is however not always clear who is to be considered a national or a citizen of a Member State. The many different layers of British and Commonwealth citizenship paint a complex picture. Also regarding franchise in European Parliamentary elections there is a lack of harmonisation of legislation. The electoral procedure for the EP elections are governed by national provisions in each Member State, and Spain and the United Kingdom argue about however it is already regulated, on Community level, who can be granted the right to vote in the elections. How wide is the discretion of the Member States in this area? Has the United Kingdom exceeded the boundaries of this discretion through giving the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament to non-EU citizens? The Council of Europe takes electoral rights seriously, and the minimum requirement is that foreign nationals permanently living in another country ought to have rights of political participation at least on the local level. It was a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights that forced the United Kingdom to enact the contested statute. The Gibraltar-case cannot be examined without taking into consideration the territorial conflict between Spain and the United Kingdom. It is my opinion that this legal action would probably not have taken place had it not been for the politically sensitive status of Gibraltar and that the United Kingdom has organised the extension of voting rights to Gibraltarians within the margin of discretion given to Member States by present EC law. (Less)
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author
Karvonen, Malin
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
EG-rätt
language
English
id
1559134
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:23
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:23
@misc{1559134,
  abstract     = {This study explores the link between EU citizenship and the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament. It does so through the so-called ''Gibraltar-case'', C-145/04, at the time of writing still pending before the European Court of Justice. Spain alleges that the United Kingdom has infringed EC law through enacting the European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003 in which the right to vote in European Parliamentary elections is granted to the people of Gibraltar. The United Kingdom electoral legislation grants franchise to Commonwealth citizens, even if they are not nationals of the United Kingdom. This means that non-EU citizens living in Gibraltar can vote in EP elections, as long as they qualify as Commonwealth citizens. Spain is of the opinion that franchise cannot be given to individuals who lack EU-citizenship without a decision on Community level. The traditional approach is to leave problems regarding who is to be considered a citizen of a Member State completely to the discretion of that Member State. Citizenship is an issue that seem to lie close to the very core of state sovereignty and talk about harmonisation of legislation in the area of citizenship is politically sensitive. Every person who is a national of a Member State is a citizen of the Union, according to EC law. It is however not always clear who is to be considered a national or a citizen of a Member State. The many different layers of British and Commonwealth citizenship paint a complex picture. Also regarding franchise in European Parliamentary elections there is a lack of harmonisation of legislation. The electoral procedure for the EP elections are governed by national provisions in each Member State, and Spain and the United Kingdom argue about however it is already regulated, on Community level, who can be granted the right to vote in the elections. How wide is the discretion of the Member States in this area? Has the United Kingdom exceeded the boundaries of this discretion through giving the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament to non-EU citizens? The Council of Europe takes electoral rights seriously, and the minimum requirement is that foreign nationals permanently living in another country ought to have rights of political participation at least on the local level. It was a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights that forced the United Kingdom to enact the contested statute. The Gibraltar-case cannot be examined without taking into consideration the territorial conflict between Spain and the United Kingdom. It is my opinion that this legal action would probably not have taken place had it not been for the politically sensitive status of Gibraltar and that the United Kingdom has organised the extension of voting rights to Gibraltarians within the margin of discretion given to Member States by present EC law.},
  author       = {Karvonen, Malin},
  keyword      = {EG-rätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Gibraltar case. A critical test of rules concerning EU citizenship and franchise in elections to the European Parliament.},
  year         = {2006},
}