Under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, mobile EU citizens – that is, those residing on the territory of a member state of which they are not a national – have ‘the right to vote and to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament and in municipal elections in their Member State of residence, under the same conditions as nationals of that State’.
However, the European Commission has recently observed that, in practice, few choose to avail themselves of these rights, attributing this to a general lack of awareness and information, burdensome administrative procedures, and difficulties relating to multiple voting in European Parliament elections, among other issues.
In light of this finding, the Commission is currently considering two alternative proposals to improve access to electoral rights for mobile EU citizens. The first, ‘softer’ proposal would be limited to ‘targeted’ amendments ‘reinforcing and clarifying existing provisions’ of the relevant Directives. The second, more far-reaching proposal would involve extensive legislative revision, including the establishment of a harmonised registration process.
The Commission has indicated that it prefers the first option, which it considers to offer a better means of improving mobile EU citizens’ access to electoral rights while ‘respecting national competence in electoral matters’.
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