29 October 2021
Under the arrangements set out in Council Directives 93/109/EC and 94/80/EC, EU nationals who live in a Member State other than their own are entitled to participate in European and municipal elections, respectively, in their country of residence. This concerns an estimated 11 million EU citizens of voting age (post-Brexit data). Even if Member States have successfully transposed both directives, voter turnout among mobile citizens remains low compared to nationals. Similarly, only a fraction of candidates standing for European elections is made up of non-nationals (slightly over 1 % in the 2019 elections). The European Commission has announced its intention to update both directives; according to its 2021 work programme (Annex II), amending proposals are envisaged for the fourth quarter of 2021, forming part of the 'transparency and democracy package'. This briefing looks into the operation of Council Directive 93/109/EC on the right to vote and stand as candidate in European elections. It discusses obstacles that hinder mobile EU citizens from effectively exercising their electoral rights, such as registration and communication issues, and looks into the problem of double voting. The implementation of Directive 94/80/EC regarding municipal elections is examined in a separate briefing.