Election Rules: EU citizens should be guaranteed mobility and electoral rights, yet they face challenges when voting and standing for election in another EU country, warn MEPs.
According to the EU treaties, EU citizens residing in another EU country should have the right to participate in European and local elections under the same conditions as nationals of that state.
However, Europeans living in another EU country still face obstacles when exercising electoral rights and their participation in elections remains very low compared to nationals.
The rules on European elections as well as those governing how non-citizens can participate in municipal elections differ by country.
Two legislative proposals
Following requests for improvements by Parliament, the European Commission put forward proposals to update and harmonise the rules governing European and municipal elections in all countries.
Parliament wants more simplified rules and to make elections more accessible.
Both the report on EU elections and the one on local elections – guided through Parliament by Damian Boeselager (Greens/EFA, Germany) and Joachim Stanisław Brudziński (ECR, Poland) respectively – propose:
- simplifying registration for voters and candidates
- making voting more accessible by offering information in other official EU languages and in formats to help vulnerable groups, for example: braille, large print, audio, and sign language
They also encourage EU countries to consider introducing tools to make voting easier, such as postal and electronic voting and mobile polling stations.
MEPs also asked for some provisions in the current rules to be removed, including the exception that allows a country to restrict the electoral rights of nationals from other EU countries when they represent more than 20% of all EU citizens residing in its territory.
Changes need to be adopted by EU countries
For the rules to be changed, EU countries in the Council must adopt them unanimously.
MEPs would like the new rules to be in place in time for the 2024 European elections.