Saturday, July 16, 2005

Government urges UK to correct ‘inaccurate statement’

European Court of Justice on House of Assembly powers

The Gibraltar Government is pressing Britain to clarify to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) the legal position as regards the Gibraltar parliament’s powers.

The move follows a report in the Chronicle on the current proceedings by Spain against the manner in which Gibraltarians have been granted the EU vote. This had revealed that the ECJ had “noted that the House of Assembly has the right to make laws in defined domestic matters”.

Writing to the Chronicle Rafael Benzaquen, the head of the Government’s Legislation Support Unit, said the statement, contained in the official report for the hearing in the European Court of Justice, is fundamentally incorrect.

Mr Benzaquen says that the clear implication behind that incorrect statement is that the House can only legislate on defined domestic matters, a proposition which is incorrect as a matter of law.

“It is the Government, not the legislature, whose powers are constitutionally circumscribed by the concept of ‘defined domestic matter’”, he says.

The Constitution gives the House of Assembly powers to make laws for the “peace, order and good government” of Gibraltar, and this is not limited to defined domestic matters, says Mr Benzaquen.

Mr Benzaquen tells the Chronicle that, after making inquiries it appears that the origin of the statement is an inaccurate interpretation by the court of the UK’s pleadings. The Government of Gibraltar has requested the United Kingdom that steps be taken to correct the record, he said.

Related Articles and Links:

European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003

Article 299(4) EC - Special member state territories and their relations with the EU

06 July 2005 - Spain argues against vote for Gibraltarians in EU Elections

28 June 2005 - Opposition condemn Spanish action

06 July 2005 - Spain v UK on Gibraltar’s EU vote

24 May 2005 - Eurovote objections continue

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