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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

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Factsheet (published December 2010) pdf - 98 KB [98 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr)

Promoting your EU electoral rights

Participating in the European Parliament and municipal elections in the Member State of residence

EU citizens who live in a Member State other than their own have the right to vote and stand as candidates in European Parliament elections and municipal elections organised in that Member State. This must be done under the same conditions as for the country’s own nationals, even if EU citizens do not have the host country’s nationality.

a) Voting and standing as candidates in European Parliament elections

Which action(s) did the 2010 EU Citizenship Report foresee?

  • To propose the simplification of the procedure for EU citizens when standing as candidates in their member state of residence and to improve the current mechanism for preventing double voting in European Parliament elections, taking into account the timeframe and outcome of future European Parliament electoral reform.

What progress has been made?

In October 2011, the Commission re-launched discussions on the 2006 Commission proposal to amend Directive 93/109/EC, which regulates the right of EU citizens to vote and stand as candidates in European Parliament elections in their State of residence.

On 9 March 2012, the Commission adopted its second report on the exercise of the electoral rights in municipal elections . It highlights obstacles still hampering the full exercise of these rights and cases of incorrect transposition and application of EU rules. The Commission is implementing the measures singled out in the report to reinforce participation in democratic life at local level.

b) Becoming member or founding a political party

Charlotte, who is a Danish citizen living in the Czech Republic, wants to join a Czech party sharing her political views. Domestic law does not currently allow her to do so, as is the case in Poland and Lithuania.

Which action(s) did the 2010 EU Citizenship Report foresee?

  • To ask Member States to ensure that voting rights of EU citizens in their Member State of residence are fully enforced, that EU citizens can be members of or found political parties in the country and that they duly inform EU citizens of their electoral rights.

What progress has been made?

The Commission is pursuing contacts with Member States concerned, a number of which have announced that they will amend their legislations. The Commission is monitoring closely how these Member States are delivering on their commitments whilst continuing to work with the remaining ones to tackle outstanding issues, with a view to ensuring that EU citizens are able to effectively exercise their electoral rights and thus participate in the democratic life of the Union.

c) Early publication of the results of European Parliament elections in one Member State, several days before the close of the poll in other Member States, prevents citizens from casting their vote free of influence by these electoral results.

Which action(s) did the 2010 EU Citizenship Report foresee?

  • To ask Member States to ensure that, in the future, publication of the results of the European Parliament elections takes place at the same time in all Member States.

What progress has been made?

Measures have been put in place in all Member States to make this a reality.

d) Participation in national elections in the Member State of origin

Richard, who is a British citizen and moved to Spain 20 years ago, wants to vote in national elections in the United Kingdom. He is refused this right because he has not been living in the United Kingdom for the past 20 years. He does not have the right to vote in Spanish national elections either because he is not a Spanish citizen.

Which action(s) did the 2010 EU Citizenship Report foresee?

  • To launch a discussion to identify political options to prevent EU citizens from losing their political rights as a consequence of exercising their right to free movement.

What progress has been made?

A dialogue with the Member States concerned is ongoing.

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