Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy reminded us in the European Parliament last week of what it means to be European and part of this Union. Europe represents the ideals of diversity, the rule of law, social justice, and above all peace and democracy.
Yet, our own European democracy leaves some space for improvement: There has been no update in the way we vote i.e. our democratic foundation in 40 years. There has been no improvement to the functioning of the EU in more than 15 years. Yet, EU capitals do not seem to really care and stall any progress on Treaty change, electoral law reform or strengthening voting rights.
Instead, if we, as Parliament, ask for reform, we get a No or a cheeky legal instrument that prevents us from really changing anything that the Commission does not want to be changed.
This was true for reforming the voting rights of Europeans that live abroad in the EU – so not in the country they were born in or they have the nationality of. While as Europeans, we are able to move, work and live freely across our borders, our democratic rights sometimes get stopped at the border!
We addressed this issue in Strasbourg. We succeeded in improving the democratic rights for Europeans living abroad in the EU. They are 11 million Europeans, which is the size of a medium-sized Member State.
What we succeeded in strengthening mobile EU citizens rights:
Better and regular information on voting rights and how to stand as a candidate in all EU languages
Immediate registration for elections at the time of registration in one’s new home
Active involvement of civil society organizations in raising public awareness
Improving access to polling stations and ballot boxes so that people with handicaps or restricted mobility can easily vote
Asking capitals to expand voting options so that advanced physical voting, proxy voting, postal voting, electronic and online voting
If you want to go into the details of the text we wrote, check this link out.