The European Commission has today issued guidance to EU-Member States which have rules in place leading to a loss of voting rights for citizens in national elections, simply because they have exercised their right to free movement in the EU. Five Member States (Denmark, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and the United Kingdom) currently apply regimes which have that effect. Whilst under the existing EU Treaties, Member States are competent to determine who can benefit from the right to vote in national elections, disenfranchisement practices can negatively affect EU free movement rights. Disenfranchisement practices are also at odds with the founding premise of EU citizenship which is meant to give citizens additional rights, rather than depriving them of rights. The European Parliament Office in Malta in Malta has said that “as an EU expat living in Malta you can vote for the 2014 European Elections in Malta.” “Closing date for registration is 31 March 2014. You’ll need an ID card or residence document from the Citizenship & Expatriate Affairs Department in Valletta: www.electoral.gov.mt.” Then the Application Form, to be registered in the European Union Electoral Register as a voter for the Election of Members of the European Parliament, is available for download here.
“The right to vote is one of the fundamental political rights of citizenship. It is part of the very fabric of democracy. Depriving citizens of their right to vote once they move to another EU country is effectively tantamount to punishing citizens for having exercised their right to free movement. Such practices risk making them second-class citizens,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner.
“In letters, petitions and citizens’ dialogues, citizens have made clear to us just how important this issue is to them. This is why, in the 2013 EU Citizenship Report, the Commission made a pledge to address the matter.”
Viviane Reding added, “today we are doing our part of the job. We are calling on Member States to show greater flexibility and are issuing proportionate guidance to the five countries concerned so that citizens can get back on the electoral roll of their home country. I hope Member States will be ready to address these very concrete concerns, because disenfranchisement is a big deal for the individuals concerned.”