[JURIST] The European Court of Justice [official website] Tuesday upheld a UK law [press release, PDF; ECJ case materials] that extends the right to vote in European Parliament elections to residents of Gibraltar [government website; BBC backgrounder], the tiny British overseas territory at the mouth of the Mediterranean. In 2003, the UK established a new electoral region combining an existing region in England with Gibralter, conferring the right to vote in European Parliament elections to the territory's roughly 27,000 residents. Gibralter does not belong to the European Union. Spain, which has long disputed UK rule of the strategically-important "Rock", sued to block the UK law in European courts, arguing that "only citizens of the Union can be recognised as having the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament."
The European Court of Justice rejected Spain's claims, and according to the court's press release:
The Court holds that neither the EC Treaty nor the 1976 Act defines expressly and precisely who are to be entitled to the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament. Therefore, in the current state of Community law, the definition of the persons entitled to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament falls within the competence of each Member State in compliance with Community law. The relevant articles of the EC Treaty do not preclude the Member States from granting that right to vote and to stand as a candidate to certain persons who have close links to them, other than their own nationals or citizens of the Union resident in their territory.Reuters has more.