tax & juristiction | next years' elections will see 20,000 voters join the electorate
Gibraltar will finally vote in the European elections, after a 30-year long wait.
Although Gibraltar joined the European Union (as part of the United Kingdom) in 1973, the UK disenfranchised Gibr- altar from its vote in the European elections. Next year's elections will be the first which will absorb the vote of Gibraltar's electorate.
As there are only 20,000 potential voters on the Rock ' too small a number to create a separate electoral region ' Gibraltar's vote has been combined with the south west region of England.
'We chose the south west of England because of historical maritime links,' said Guy Canessa, spokesman for the Gibraltar Finance Centre. In addition, Gibraltar could identify with this region because it is made up of distinct communities, such as Cornwall, which retains its own particular identity, he added.
'Although we joined the European Union in 1973, we have never been enfranchised. It's taken the UK a long time to do so,' noted Canessa.
This turn of events, which has attracted attacks from Spain which makes a habit of stalling any plans for Gibraltar, only came about after a case was filed with the Court of Human Rights over the issue. It is known as the Denise Matthews case, after a young Gibraltarian who filed it in 1999.
The new combined region has seven MEPs, although the chances of Gibraltar having its own home-bred MEP are fairly slim: the electorate, compared with locations like Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth, is minute.
This development will have little impact on financial services in Gibraltar. Since the colony joined the European Union, it's laws and regulations have evolved in line with the EU. Earlier this year, Gibraltar enacted the Investment Services law, which allows it to create Ucits-compliant fund structures.
'The European vote really just reinforces the fact that Gibraltar is in the European Union, and has been since 1973,' said Canessa.
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