29 October 2021
An estimated 13.3 million European Union (EU) citizens live in an EU Member State that is not their country of origin. Of these, over 11 million are of voting age. Under Council Directives 93/109/EC and 94/80/EC, these 'mobile' Europeans are entitled to participate in European and municipal elections in their country of residence. While Member States have successfully transposed both directives, voter turnout among mobile citizens remains low compared to nationals. In its 2020 citizenship report, the European Commission announced a strengthening of electoral rights in European and municipal elections. According to the Commission's 2021 work programme (Annex II), amending proposals are envisaged for the fourth quarter of 2021, as part of the 'Transparency and democracy package'. This briefing explores the operation of Council Directive 94/80/EC on the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections and discusses obstacles to citizens' effective exercise of their rights. It also analyses the implications of Brexit on local election rights for both United Kingdom (UK) citizens residing in the EU 27 and EU citizens living in the UK. The resulting post-Brexit status quo is a complex patchwork governed by national law and bilateral agreements. A separate briefing examines the implementation of Directive 93/109/EC regarding European elections.