European Parliament to debate voting rights of disenfranchised nationals

MEPs in the Petitions Committee have today voted to help give voting rights to those nationals who have lived in a different member state for over 15 years and are now deprived of their democratic right.

Called the “15 year rule”, this affects millions of British citizens who have lost their right to vote because they exercised their right to move freely around the EU under Freedom of Movement.

Based on the assumption that people who reside in a different country are not affected by political decisions taken at home after 15 years, six EU member states including the United Kingdom have played a role in disenfranchising their nationals by refusing their participation in the democratic life of their country of origin.

The successful votes in the European Parliament in Brussels today mean that the “15 year rule” will be debated and voted on by all MEPs during an upcoming plenary session in Strasbourg. If the votes are successful, the EU Commission and Council will then have to provide official answers regarding the issue of disenfranchisement, including further measures to protect voting rights and a guarantee that EU citizens will in future be given the choice to participate in the electoral life of their home country.

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, who sits on the Petitions Committee and has been supporting the cause of disenfranchised British nationals, commented:

“This is a great next step in our fight to guarantee that all EU nationals, no matter how long they have lived away for, can cast their vote at home and have a say in the politics and future of their country.

“Millions of British citizens have moved to a different member state in good faith and under EU law regarding freedom of movement. Many of them subsequently lost their right to vote and the EU referendum is a particular example as to why the ‘15 year rule’ needs to be abolished. This crucial vote has had a direct impact on their lives, but they had no say in it. We must ensure that we learn from this and don’t allow history to repeat itself.”

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