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Voting rights and eligibility in European Parliament elections

The directive lays down the arrangements for European Union (EU) citizens residing in an EU country of which they are not nationals to exercise the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in European Parliament elections.

ACT

Council Directive 93/109/EC of 6 December 1993 laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals.

SUMMARY

The directive lays down detailed arrangements under which European Union (EU) citizens residing in an EU country of which they are not nationals may exercise the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in European Parliament elections in that country.

It does not affect the rights of an EU country’s nationals at elections to the European Parliament in their own country, whether or not those nationals reside in that country.

The directive defines the requirements a national of another EU country must satisfy to vote or to stand as a candidate in his/her country of residence. Namely, such a person must:

  • be a citizen of the Union;
  • be resident in the EU country in which s/he proposes to vote or to stand as a candidate;
  • satisfy the same conditions as a national of that EU country who wishes to vote or to stand as a candidate (the principle of equality between national and non-national voters).

It is ultimately a matter for each EU country to determine which persons are its nationals.

EU citizens may exercise their right to vote and to stand as a candidate either in the EU country of residence or in their home country. No one may vote more than once or stand as a candidate in more than one EU country. To prevent double voting and double candidacy, EU countries must exchange information on citizens registered to vote or to stand as a candidate.

A voter is to be entered on the electoral roll of his/her country of residence only if s/he so requests in advance. A voter who opts for the right to vote in his/her country of residence undertakes not to exercise this right in his/her country of origin. In EU countries where nationals are required to vote, non-national voters who ask to be entered on the electoral roll are subject to the same obligation.

In order to have his/her name entered on the electoral roll, a non-national voter must produce the same documents as a national voter. In addition, s/he must provide further information in the form of a formal statement.

A candidate must not have been deprived of his/her voting rights in the country of residence nor in the country of origin. When s/he submits an application to stand as a candidate, an EU citizen must provide proof supplied by the country of origin that s/he is entitled to stand as a candidate there.

The EU country of residence may refuse, if it so wishes, to enter voters who are disqualified from voting in their country of origin.

The legal remedies available to nationals must also be available to non-nationals who are refused entry on the electoral roll or whose application to stand as a candidate is rejected.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 93/109/EC

30.12.1993

1.2.1994

OJ L 329, 30.12.1993

RELATED ACTS

Report from the Commission of 27 October on the election of Members of the European Parliament (1976 Act as amended by Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom) and on the participation of European Union citizens in the elections for the European Parliament in the Member State of residence (Directive 93/109/EC) [COM(2010) 605 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
As a follow-up to the 2009 European Parliament elections, this report evaluates how EU citizens’ electoral rights were enforced by looking at:

  • citizens’ awareness of the elections and the associated rights, and level of participation;
  • non-national EU citizens’ awareness and participation in their countries of residence and EU countries’ action to encourage this participation;
  • the transposition and implementation by EU countries of EU law in this field.

In general, EU countries have correctly transposed and implemented Directive 93/109/EC. Nevertheless, a few countries impose conditions on non-national EU citizens, thereby creating obstacles to the exercise of their right to vote and to stand as a candidate in their countries of residence; in certain cases contrary to the directive. A number of EU countries must also take further measures to ensure that they comply with the obligation to provide sufficient information to citizens on the exercising of their rights.
The mechanism provided by the directive for preventing double voting and double candidacy continues to be deficient. The Commission is considering the replacement of its pending proposal to amend the directive to better address this problem.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council of 20 December 2007 on granting a derogation pursuant to Article 19(2) of the EC Treaty, presented under Article 14(3) of Directive 93/109/EC on the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament [COM(2007) 846 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Pursuant to Article 14 of the directive, the Commission presents this report in the run-up to the June 2009 elections on the validity of the derogations granted to EU countries. Only Luxembourg has been granted such a derogation by the Commission (see below), allowing it to confine the right to vote to individuals who can prove they have lived in Luxembourg for a certain period of time. Upon examination, the Commission considers that the grounds for this derogation are still valid and that no amendments need be proposed.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council of 27 January 2003 on granting a derogation pursuant to Article 19(2) of the EC Treaty, presented under Article 14(3) of Directive 93/109/EC on the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament [COM(2003) 31 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Article 14 of Directive 93/109/EC provides that if, in a given EU country, the proportion of non-national resident EU citizens of voting age exceeds 20 % of the total number of EU citizens of voting age residing there, that EU country may apply for a derogation. Luxembourg has availed itself of this derogation. The Commission concludes that the reasons put forward for keeping this derogation for Luxembourg are still justified. Consequently, there is no need to propose adaptations to it.

Communication from the Commission of 18 December 2000 on the application of Directive 93/109/EC to the June 1999 elections to the European Parliament – Right of Union citizens residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals to vote and stand in elections to the European Parliament [COM(2000) 843 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission considers the application of Directive 93/109/EC to be rather unsatisfactory to date. The report finds that turnout in the 1999 European Parliament elections by EU citizens not residing in their country of origin was not much higher than before. The right to stand was exercised even less.
Regarding the operation of the information exchange system, it once again proved unsatisfactory. The Commission therefore calls for practical improvements to the exchange system within the current legislative framework, since it does not consider it necessary to amend the Directive, even though the divergent registration deadlines made the exercise of exchanging information difficult in practice.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 7 January 1998 on the application of Directive 93/109/EC – Voting rights of EU citizens living in a Member State of which they are not nationals in European Parliament elections [COM(97) 731 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission report on the implementation of Directive 93/109/EC indicates that it had been applied by all EU countries to the elections to the European Parliament of June 1994. Sweden, Austria and Finland had applied the directive to the elections organised in 1995 and 1996 following their accession to the Union.
The report draws two conclusions from the elections:

  • information on the new rights of European citizens has been inadequate;
  • an exceptionally low rate of success for non-national candidates (only one non-national candidate had been elected in his EU country of residence), with an average turnout of non-national voters of 5.87 %.

As the directive had on the whole been satisfactorily transposed by EU countries, the Commission feels that at this point there is no need to amend it.

Last updated: 27.01.2011

See also

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