Appeal goes out over citizens' Brexit rights

Britain's EU27 citizens appeal to the EU and the UK government to safeguard their right to vote in the European elections

Leading campaigners for the rights of more than three million continental European citizens living in the UK are asking the Government to step in to help ensure that as many EU nationals as possible in Britain can vote in the upcoming European elections. 

EU citizens in the UK are entitled to vote in those elections – but  the registration process they have to complete is much more complex and time-consuming than that which UK nationals have to face.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of EU nationals in the UK are not yet registered to vote in the election later this month – and are therefore in danger of losing their right to take part.

In the past, EU nationals in the UK were given four months to complete the necessary documentation. This time they have been given barely 2 weeks. 

It is thought that the very short timescale may be in violation of EU law which obliges governments to give voters adequate time to carry out their documentation.

Article 12 of the 1993 Directive, requires member states to inform EU nationals of the conditions and detailed arrangements for the exercise of their right to vote "in good time"

A key organisation campaigning for the rights of EU nationals in the UK – New Europeans – has written to Cabinet Secretary David Lidington, asking him to extend the deadline for EU nationals to complete the more complex part of their registration procedure.

Meanwhile, the Green Party of England and Wales is today celebrating its biggest election night in its history.  As of 10:30 CET, Greens had won 42 new seats in local elections in England and Northern Ireland, a fivefold increase in the final gains in the comparable elections four years ago with the majority of results still to come in.

Commenting on the result, the party co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales Jonathan Bartley said:“This is the biggest election night in our history. Greens are winning right across the country, and taking seats from a wide range of other parties.  The Green message is clearly taking hold and can win anywhere.  This is the product of a huge amount of hard work by many brilliant members and supporters around the country, but also many voters are converting themselves to be Greens.  Voters see that we need a new kind of politics, one that recognises the huge imperative of acting on climate change, but also the social emergency that is creating misery and suffering in communities across the country.”

The European Green Party leading candidate and Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout said:“We congratulate Green party councillors in England and Northern Ireland on these incredible results securing seats as well as gaining new ones.  This shows that there is a growing sense of trust that Greens can make a real difference in delivering change, such as declaring a climate emergency that was first proposed by a Green councillor in Bristol.  

“It is also significant that many wins have also been in areas that voted Brexit in 2016. The Greens in the UK have been clear in standing up for the country’s membership of the European Union and are now the biggest advocate for remain.  We hope these results are a foretaste of things to come and that we will be welcoming more Greens into the European Parliament in a Green Wave later this month.” 

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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