Volt UK accepts the ruling by the ECJ, but it further demonstrates the need for the UK to rejoin the EU.
On 9th June 2022, the European Court of Justice ruled that British nationals living in the EU can no longer vote or stand in local elections. The case had been brought to their attention after a British citizen in France was removed from her local electoral register when the UK left the EU.
Sadly, as the UK is now considered a Third State by the EU, we do not have the right to vote in other EU countries.
This was an inevitable consequence of Brexit, but it is also something which could have been agreed as part of the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed in December 2020. UK citizens living in other EU member states were often ignored by the British government in the lead-up to the UK leaving the EU. In 2019 / 2020, according to data by the United Nations, around 1.3 million British nationals lived in the EU. As a result of Brexit, this number has been dropping considerably, but a sizable percentage remain.
It’s important to note that EU citizens who lived in the UK before Brexit happened are still guaranteed their voting rights in British elections (as long as they retain a lawful immigration status).
This begs the question – why was this not reciprocated for British citizens across the EU? Unfortunately, the EU does not have jurisdiction over this matter, and it falls to the individual EU member state to provide voting rights to British citizens in local elections. However, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg and Poland have reciprocal voting agreements with the UK. This means that British citizens living in these respective countries are still able to stand and vote in local elections.
We believe that the EU should be providing a framework or guidance for member states to easily provide voting rights to British citizens living in the EU, especially those living in the EU before the Trade and Cooperation Agreement was signed.
Despite the UK voting to leave the EU, British citizens have chosen to stay in their respective EU member state, it’s their home, and they want to feel part of their local community. EU member states and the British Government must cooperate to resolve this issue and ensure that citizens are not discriminated against.
Are you a British citizen living in the EU? Willing to share your story of how Brexit has affected you? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org