ANNOUNCED (28/11/01) 

Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain said on 28 November:

'I am delighted to announce the Government's intention that, for the 
first time ever, the Gibraltar electorate should be able to vote in 
European Parliamentary elections. The Government fully supports 
Gibraltar's aspiration and right to be represented in the European 
Parliament. We are committed to achieving this in time for the next 
elections in 2004.     

'This will require domestic legislation in the UK, so we will be 
seeking the legislative time in order to bring in the necessary 
domestic legislation. We will of course proceed in close 
consultation with the Gibraltar authorities.'   

Notes for Editors

1. The UK is responsible for Gibraltar within the European Union 

2. At present, the Gibraltar electorate is unable to participate in 
elections to the European Parliament. 

3. As a result of a European Court of Human Rights ruling (Matthews 
vs UK) we are under a legal obligation to enable the Gibraltar 
electorate to vote in EP elections. Ever since the judgement was 
delivered in February 1999, the UK Government has made clear that it 
unequivocally accepts the obligation to ensure that Gibraltarians 
can vote in elections to the European Parliament, and that it was 
actively seeking enfranchisement in time for the 2004 elections.     

4. We have carefully examined all the options for achieving this, 
and we have now decided to seek legislative time to bring in the 
necessary domestic legislation so that Gibraltar will be 
enfranchised in time for 2004 elections.    

5. The detail of the legislative arrangements and the precise manner 
in which Gibraltar will exercise the franchise needs to be 
considered further by both HMG and the Government of Gibraltar. We 
will be seeking early consultations with the Government of Gibraltar 
in order to take this forward.