Brussels, 20 November 2012
European elections: citizens will be able to stand as candidates in another EU country more easily
It will now be easier for EU citizens living in another Member State to stand as candidates in the 2014 European Parliament elections, following a vote on a European Commission proposal in the European Parliament today. Members of the European Parliament voted in their plenary session today with an overwhelming majority (618 votes in favour, 23 votes against and 14 abstentions) to approve the proposal. The draft law aims to simplify the procedure for non-national EU citizens to stand as candidates for the European Parliament by amending the existing rules (Directive 93/109/EC). It is one the Commission’s initiatives to promote and facilitate participation in the European elections. Following agreement by the European Parliament, the proposal is now expected to be adopted by the Council before the end of 2012.
"Taking part in the European elections is one of the most important ways for citizens to make their voice heard in the EU," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner. “Every EU citizen has the right to vote or stand as a candidate in European elections, whether they live in their own country or in another EU Member State. The reform we have put on the table makes it easier for those EU citizens exercising their right to live anywhere in the Union to also exercise their democratic rights in European elections."
In its 2010 EU Citizenship Report, the Commission raised the issue of steadily declining turnout in the European elections and the need to facilitate the participation of EU citizens in the elections (IP/10/1390). Simplifying procedures for non-national EU citizens to stand as candidates in their Member State of residence is one way of addressing this issue.
The Commission is also working with Member States to ensure that EU citizens residing in an EU Member State other than their own can participate in European elections under the same conditions as national citizens, in line with EU law (Action 18 of the EU Citizenship Report).
Directive 93/109/EC sets out arrangements to enable EU citizens to make use of their right to vote or stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament in the EU Member State they live in. In 2006, the European Commission proposed to amend this directive to simplify the procedure for those candidates standing in another Member State to their own and to reform the mechanism to prevent double voting in European elections. Because Member States were unable to agree unanimously on the arrangements concerning double voting, negotiations on the proposal had been suspended in 2008.
On the initiative of the Commission, discussions were re-launched in October 2011 focusing on the main aspect of the proposal: simplification of the procedures for non-national EU citizens to stand as candidates. Namely, candidates would no longer be obliged to return to their home Member State to obtain a certificate stating that they are not deprived of their right to stand as a candidate. Instead, when applying to stand as a candidate in their Member State of residence they would only be required to provide a declaration in that sense and the burden of the proof would be on the Member State of residence's electoral authority.
Agreement was reached in the Council (at COREPER level) and the European Parliament is now being consulted again (having already been consulted in its resolution on the initial proposal in 2007).
For more information
European Commission – EU citizenship
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner: