Press conference by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the EC, on voting rights of EU citizens abroad
Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, gave a press conference on voting rights of EU citizens abroad. The EC issued guidance to EU Member States which had rules in place leading to a loss of voting rights for citizens in national elections, simply because they had exercised their right to free movement in the EU.
Five Member States (Denmark, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and the United Kingdom) applied regimes which had that effect. Whilst under the existing EU Treaties, Member States were competent to determine who could benefit from the right to vote in national elections, disenfranchisement practices could negatively affect EU free movement rights. Disenfranchisement practices were also at odds with the founding premise of EU citizenship which was meant to give citizens additional rights, rather than depriving them of rights.
Guidance aimed to tackle the problem in a proportionate way by inviting Member States to: enable their nationals who made use of their right to free movement in the EU to retain their right to vote in national elections if they demonstrated a continuing interest in the political life of their country, including by applying to remain on the electoral roll; when allowing nationals resident in another Member State to apply to keep their vote, ensure that they could do so electronically; inform citizens in a timely and appropriate way about the conditions and practical arrangements for retaining their right to vote in national elections.