Brussels, 29 January 2014
European Parliament elections: Citizens should be able to stand as candidates in another EU country more easily
Under EU rules which should be in place in all Member States as of today, it will be easier for EU citizens living in another Member State to stand as candidates in the 2014 European Parliament elections. The new law, agreed at the end of 2012 (MEMO/12/1020) and which is an update of previous rules (Directive 2013/1/EU), simplifies the procedure for non-national EU citizens to stand as candidates for the European Parliament. Member States had until yesterday (28 January 2014) to implement the updated rules. However, according to the latest information received by the European Commission, only 14 Member States (Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom) have formally notified their laws in time for the deadline. The new law is part of a series of measures taken by the European Commission to promote participation in the European Parliament elections that will take place between 22-25 May 2014 (see also IP/13/215).
"Europe must be built with the participation of Europeans. It is essential that citizens have their say as the European Union develops and moves forward. 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. This right must be effective across the Union," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “I am disappointed to see that only half of the EU's Member States have met the deadline for updating these rules. I call on those who have not yet implemented the rules to do so urgently, so that EU citizens can exercise their rights in the forthcoming elections. In the run-up to the European Parliament elections, the European Commission will keep a close eye on the situation. Every vote counts in an election."
In its 2010 EU Citizenship Report, the Commission addressed the issue of steadily declining turnout in European Parliament elections and the need to facilitate the participation of EU citizens in the elections (IP/10/1390, MEMO/10/525). Simplifying procedures for non-national EU citizens to stand as candidates in their Member State of residence is one way of addressing this issue.
Under the new EU-rules, 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 proof would be on the Member State of residence's electoral authority.
The Commission has also taken action 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 (IP/13/874), in line with EU law (Action 18 of the 2010 EU Citizenship Report).
Thanks to EU citizenship – which complements, but does not replace national citizenship – all nationals of the 28 EU Member States have a set of additional rights as EU citizens. These include the right to vote and stand in local and European Parliament elections in the EU country they live in. More than 14 million EU citizens currently live in another Member State to their own, including over 8 million of voting age.
After discussions on proposed rules to facilitate the use of rights of EU citizens to vote and stand in European elections were blocked in Council in 2008, the European Commission re-launched negotiations in October 2011. It did so by focusing on the main aspect of the original EU proposal from 2006: simplification of the procedures for non-national EU citizens to stand as candidates. As a result, the rules were adopted on 20 December 2012 (MEMO/12/1020), with a deadline for implementing them into national law of two years following publication in the EU’s Official Journal.
In 2006 the European Commission had proposed to change the rules from 1993 which set 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.
The Commission's proposal would have simplified the procedure for those candidates standing in another Member State to their own and reformed the mechanism to prevent double voting in European elections. As Member States were unable to agree unanimously on the arrangements concerning double voting, negotiations on the proposal were suspended in 2008.
For more information
European Commission – EU citizenship
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