Case C-145/04 and Case C-300/04

Two cases I promised I would come back to.

Case 145/04, Spain v United Kingdom

In this case, a rare example of an Article 227 procedure, Spain contested the validity of the UK European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003, which extended the right to vote to so-called Qualifying Commonwealth Citizens (QCCs). This Act was adopted in order to implement the
Matthews- case of the European Court of Human Rights.

QCCs were citizens which were not required to hold a residence permit to enter and stay in Gibraltar or who possessed a permit or certificate authorising them to enter Gibraltar resident in Gibraltar, mainly Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis.

Spain argued that it followed from the EC Treaty provisions on EU citizenship and elections to the European Parliament that only citizens of EU Member States should be entitled to vote, and also that the UK statute was contrary to Annex II to the 1976 Act concerning the election of representatives to the European Parliament.

The Court started by arguing that Articles 189 and 190 EC did not exclude the right to vote to non-EU-citizens. Nor could it be derived from the Treaty’s Articles relating to citizenship of the Union that citizens of the Union were the only persons entitled under all the other provisions of the Treaty, which would imply that Arts 189 EC and 190 EC applied to those citizens alone.

The Court held that in the current state of Community law, it was for Member States to define franchise and eligibility for European elections

European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003 was therefore not contrary to Community Law.

It also held that a Gibraltar elector was in a similar situation to that of a United Kingdom elector, and need not be faced with difficulties connected to Gibraltar’s status which made it impossible for him to exercise that right to vote or dissuade him from doing so.

The Court added that such interpretation was not inconsistent with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

Case C-300/04, Eman AND Sevinger v College van Burgemeester en Wethouders van Den Haag

In Case C-300/04, the Netherlands Council of State had asked whether a Member State could withhold the right to vote in European elections from its own citizens residing in another part of the State which constituted an OCT (in casu, Aruba).

As in C-145/04, the Court held that the Treaty did not define who was entitled to right to vote and to stand as a candidate for the European Parliament and that therefore, it was for the Member States to define the franchise and eligibility.

The Court held that it followed from Articles 189 and 190 EC that Member States were not required to hold elections to European Parliament in OCTs

The Court however added that principle of equal treatment or non‑discrimination required that comparable situations must not be treated differently and that different situations must not be treated in the same way unless such treatment was objectively justified

A Netherlands national who transferred his residence from Aruba to a non-member country had the right to vote in the same way as a Netherlands national transferring his residence from the Netherlands to a non-member country, while a Netherlands national resident in Aruba did not have that right.

The Court held that the Netherlands Government had not sufficiently demonstrated that the difference in treatment observed between Netherlands nationals resident in a non-member country and those resident in the Netherlands Antilles or Aruba was objectively justified and did not therefore constitute an infringement of the principle of equal treatment.

Text of Case
C-145/04 and of Case C-300/04

See also this and this post for the Opinion of the Advocate General