EU citizenship gives every EU citizen the right to vote for and stand as a candidate in municipal and European Parliament elections in whichever EU country the citizen resides, under the same conditions as nationals.
This right is conferred directly on every EU citizen by Article 22 of the EU Treaty . It is also taken up in Articles 39 and 40 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights . There are however a few exceptions and limitations.
According to an EU directive from 1994 , there are two exceptions to the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections:
- an EU country may stipulate that the office of elected head of the executive body of a basic local government unit can only be held by its own nationals;
- an EU country may require an additional period of residence for participating in local elections if more than 20% of the eligible voting population are non-nationals.
- A report on the implementation of EU law in local elections and ways to promote the electoral rights has been adopted on 9 March 2012.
The right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament has the following limitations according to an EU directive from 1993 :
- You may not vote in more than one EU country in the same European elections;
- EU countries may require an additional period of residence for participating in European elections, if more than 20% of the eligible voting population are non-nationals.
Each EU country decides on the procedures of its election, but there are common principles that govern elections to the European Parliament. MEPs are elected on the basis of proportional representation, by direct universal suffrage, and by a free and secret ballot.
The Court of Justice confirmed that it is up to EU countries to regulate aspects of European Parliament electoral procedure not harmonised at EU level.
However, they must respect EU law and its general principles; notably equality of treatment and non-discrimination, but also democracy and fundamental rights.
What is the European Commission doing in this area?
In view of preparing the 2014 European elections the Commission adopted on 12 March 2013 a Communication and a Recommendation for further enhancing their democratic and efficient conduct of these elections.