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What are your EU citizenship rights?
As a national of the United Kingdom or any other EU country – you are automatically also an EU citizen.
As such, you can benefit from many important rights under EU law, in particular the right to move freely around Europe to live, work, study and retire. You can also vote and stand as a candidate in European Parliament and municipal elections, petition the European Parliament and complain to the European Ombudsman.
And if you are travelling outside the EU and your country has no diplomatic representation there, you can go to the embassy or consulate of any other EU country and receive assistance and protection.
Do you need more information and advice? Please visit Your Europe.
2019 European Parliament elections in the UK
Is the UK participating in the 2019 European Parliament (EP) elections?
The UK is scheduled to hold EP elections on Thursday, 23 May 2019. However, there remains a possibility for the UK to withdraw from the EU before these elections take place. According to the European Council Decision of 11 April, the UK is obliged to hold the European Parliament elections only “(…)If the United Kingdom is still a Member State on 23-26 May 2019, and if it has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019”.
If I am an EU27 citizen living in the UK or a UK citizen living in another EU Member State, where can I vote?
EU law guarantees all EU citizens who moved to another EU Member State the right to vote and stand as a candidate for the Members of European Parliament in their Member State of residence under the same conditions as for the nationals of that state. As long as the UK is an EU Member State, this applies to EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the rest of the Union.
If you are an EU27 citizen resident in the UK intending to vote for EP candidates standing in the UK, you will have to register by 7 May. For more information please read this.
If you are an EU27 citizen resident in the UK intending to vote for EP candidates standing in your country or origin please check the rules applicable in your country.
If you are a British citizen intending to vote in the UK you will have to register by 7 May. For more information please read this.
If you are a British citizen living in another EU Member State intending to vote for candidates in your country of residence you can register as an overseas voter as long as you were registered to vote in the UK during the last 15 years. The deadline for registering to vote is Tuesday 7 May. The deadline for voting by post for British citizens is the same as for domestic voters: to be received by close of poll on election day. You can also apply to vote by proxy if you are living abroad. Find out more about this here.
All citizens are reminded that it is forbidden to vote more than once in the EP elections and that they should exercise their right to vote only in one Member State. There is a mechanism in place for the exchange of data on voters and candidates between the Member States with the aim of facilitating the removal of double registrations, whereby deregistration is carried out in the citizens’ Member State of origin.
What happens with my electoral rights if the UK withdraws before the European Parliament elections?
EU-27 citizens living in the UK who register to vote for UK MEPs should be aware that they might, following registration in the UK, be removed from the voters’ list in their Member State of origin (in order to prevent double voting). In the event that the UK withdraws from the EU before the date of the European Parliament elections, such citizens may be left without a vote in this election depending on whether or not their Member State of origin would permit late registration.
Some EU27 citizens living in the UK who register to vote from abroad (e.g., by post or at a consulate) for their national MEPs in their Member State of origin, could also be impacted by UK withdrawal in cases where their Member State of origin only allows voting from another EU Member State. Please consult your national authorities for more information on how this situation would affect you.
With regards to UK citizens living in EU27 and in case of a UK withdrawal before the election day, it will be up to each Member State to decide whether these citizens will be allowed to vote or not. EU law does not prevent Member States from allowing third country nationals to vote or stand as a candidate and be elected in the European election.
What rules apply in the composition of the European Parliament in this context?
The composition of the European Parliament without the UK being a Member State (with 705 MEPs instead of today’s 751) is laid down in European Council Decision (EU) 2018/937 of 28 June 2018, adopted on the initiative of the European Parliament.
Article 3(2) of this Decision, states that ‘in the event that the UK is still a Member State of the Union at the beginning of the 2019-2024 parliamentary term, the number of representatives in the European Parliament per Member State taking up office shall be the one provided for in Article 3 of European Council Decision 2013/312/EU until the withdrawal of the UK from the Union becomes legally effective.’
It furthermore provides that once the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the Union becomes legally effective, the number of representatives in the European Parliament elected in each Member State shall be the one provided for in Article 3(1) of the same Decision.
Your EU citizens' rights and Brexit
On 23 June the majority of people who voted in the EU membership referendum decided to leave the European Union. On 11 April 2019, the European Council (Article 50) decided, in agreement with the United Kingdom, to extend further the two-year period provided for by Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, until 31 October 2019. The withdrawal date of the United Kingdom from the European Union is 1 November 2019 at 00.00 (CET).
However, please note that:
- in the event that the United Kingdom has not held elections to the European Parliament in accordance with applicable Union law and has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019, the Decision referred to above shall cease to apply on 31 May 2019, and the withdrawal will therefore take place on 1 June 2019; and
- should the United Kingdom ratify the Withdrawal Agreement at any stage before 31 October 2019, the withdrawal will take place on the first day of the month following the completion of the ratification procedures.
Until then, the UK remains an EU member state with all rights and obligations.
It is important to note that the referendum result in itself has no immediate effect on the nationality, residence or social security status of EU citizens in the UK.
Questions and Answers – the rights of EU and UK citizens, as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement in 23 EU languages
The EU's position on the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit
On Brexit day European freedom of movement will end for EU citizens (including citizens of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), and their family members in the UK, and for British citizens living across the EU.
The EU and the UK has negotiated the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, commonly referred to as the Withdrawal Agreement(the Brexit deal). According to this after the UK leaves the EU, EU law in the main part would still continue to apply in the UK until the 31 December 2020. This means that free movement would also continue until this date. In case of no agreement ('no-deal' Brexit) free movement would end after the withdrawal date (i.e. when the UK is no longer a member of the EU).
The end of free movement, whenever it happens, means that the residence status for EU citizens and their family members has to be protected under UK immigration law. The UK Government set up the EU Settlement Scheme which is in line with the Withdrawal Agreement and is designed for this purpose. The EU Settlement Scheme is a UK Home Office application process that nearly all EU citizens, and their family members, must complete to protect their future residence in the UK. Failure to apply under this scheme would mean that any future residence in the UK will be unauthorised and therefore unlawful. Therefore, all EU citizens who arrive before Brexit and intend to stay in the UK after 31 December 2020 must take action and apply for this new UK immigration status.
For more information, please visit http://www.eurights.uk/your-rights
Information sessions and services near you
To find free information sessions and advice providers on EU citizens' rights near you, please visit http://www.eurights.uk/#search. This service is supported by the European Commission.
Free solicitors for local community groups assisting EU citizens
Are you a local community group in the UK representing or working with EU citizens?
Do your members need information on how Brexit will affect their legal status in the UK?
We can provide you with a lawyer to explain EU citizens rights' for your members.
To find out more, please visit: http://www.eurights.uk/events/new
Our aim is to provide information to help EU citizens make their own decisions about their current situation in the UK in light of Brexit. While every care is taken in preparing the information shared on our Facebook page, the European Commission do not assume any responsibility, including legal responsibility, to those who read this information and who may choose to take it into account when making any decisions relating to their situation in the UK