European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

newsMake it easier for 11 million EU citizens to participate in European elections

- Approximately 11 million European citizens of voting age reside in another member state
- Make voter registration immediately possible when becoming a resident in another EU country
- Specific provisions for vulnerable groups
- Possible introduction of complementary voting methods such as online voting

MEPs adopted a series of proposals to reinforce the right of mobile EU citizens to vote and stand in European elections in the EU country in which they reside.

The Constitutional Affairs Committee adopted its draft proposals to make European elections “more accessible, more competitive, and more European” with 18 votes for, 4 against, and 0 abstentions

MEPs want to introduce the following obligations for all member states:

  • enabling registration as soon as the voter registers for residence;
  • informing mobile citizens in an official EU language understandable to them of their rights and upcoming deadlines;
  • ensuring the same standards for the submission of candidacies for national and mobile EU citizens;
  • facilitating the exercise of the right to vote by vulnerable and marginalised groups, including persons with disabilities, older persons, homeless people, and persons in prison who enjoy their voting rights; and
  • considering the introduction of postal voting, advance physical voting, proxy voting, mobile polling stations, and electronic and online voting in European elections.

MEPs also agreed to remove the so called “derogation” provisions allowing a member state to restrict the right to vote and stand in European elections for mobile EU citizens when their population grows to over 20% of all EU citizens (nationals and mobile) residing in its territory.


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The rapporteur Damian Boeselager (Greens/EFA, DE) commented: “One beauty of the EU lies in the freedom to move and live anywhere in the Union. But often, people moving are stopped from exercising their right to participate in European elections. The report I presented addresses this issue: we succeeded in making sure that information is available in as many Union languages as possible and that civil society has an important role to play in raising awareness. Let’s make our elections more accessible!”

Next steps

This report is set to be tabled at the December plenary session in Strasbourg to finalise the process on time for the 2024 European elections. Article 22 TFEU sets out a special legislative procedure for these rules: unanimity-based vote in the Council, after a consultation with the Parliament.

Background

The Commission published its proposal in November 2021, seeking to increase the number of voters and candidates among the more than 11 million mobile European citizens of voting age. It also includes safeguards so that mobile citizens are not removed from the voter register in their country of origin.

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Based on data from 2020, the share of mobile EU citizens in the overall voting population varies greatly between EU countries. It is by far the highest in Luxembourg (40.4%) and the lowest in Poland (0.09 %). In Cyprus, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, and Malta, the share of non-national EU citizens of voting age is also considerable, corresponding to between 7 and 14% of the electorate.

 Copyright European Union