- Around 11 million Europeans of voting age reside in another member state
- These citizens face several barriers when they want to take part in European and municipal elections
- Voter registration should be possible upon registering as a resident
- Information for voters and candidates must be multilingual and timely
MEPs backed on Tuesday proposals to improve the situation for EU citizens who live in another member state and wish to vote or stand in European and local elections.
Parliament adopted two sets of closely aligned proposals on the electoral rights of EU citizens residing in another member state, in relation to European and municipal elections. The former report by Damian Boeselager (Greens/EFA, DE) was adopted with 500 votes in favour, 143 against, and nine abstentions. The latter one by Joachim Brudziński (ECR, PL) was adopted with 504 votes for, 79 against, and 69 abstentions.
Parliament asks for the so-called “derogation” provisions, which allow a member state to restrict the electoral rights of nationals of other EU countries when they represent more than 20% of all EU citizens residing in its territory, to be scrapped. The possibility of reserving top local government positions for their own nationals should also be removed, MEPS say.
Further, MEPs demand binding rules on:
- systems to proactively proceed with voter registration, as soon as a citizen registers as a resident in another EU country;
- information on electoral rights and deadlines to be offered to newly registered EU residents in an official EU language that they speak; and
- applying identical standards to all EU citizens (be it nationals of the country or from another member state) seeking to stand for election.
Parliament also calls on the member states to make it easier for vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities and mental illnesses, to exercise their electoral rights. MEPs defend alternatives to physical ballots and in-person voting - such as postal, advance, proxy and online voting.
Damian Boeselager (Greens/EFA, DE) commented: “One beauty of the EU lies in the freedom to move and live anywhere, but too often our political rights end at the border, preventing us from being able to vote in European or local elections where we live. As a member of a pan-European party, I am proud that Parliament has proposed solid ways to make voting in EU and local elections more European. EU countries should follow our lead and make our elections more accessible and innovative. I urge them to do this before this summer!”
The Council has to decide how to amend the rules by unanimity, following the completion of Parliament’s role in the consultation procedure.
Based on data from 2020, the share of EU citizens who are nationals of another member state in the overall voting population varies greatly between EU countries. Luxembourg, with 40.4%, takes first place, while Poland (0.09%) is last. In Cyprus, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, and Malta, it ranges between 7 and 14% of the electorate.