The Voters Without Borders team is determined to achieve the aims of the ECI not only by collecting signatures but also by lobbying the EU and national authorities to implement them. What we call our “advocacy paper” can be found below. This 35-page document published on 1 September 2020 when the ECI was first launched backs up the case for full political rights for mobile EU citizens with evidence from personal cases of disenfranchisement, opinion polls and statistics on freedom of movement.
The need for reform of the existing directives on the right to vote and stand in local and European elections in one’s country of residence is argued in detail. The research shows that the existing EU legislation on political rights works least well of all legislation relating to freedom of movement and is not fit for purpose. The paper estimates that in the 2019 European elections — which saw an increase in turnout generally — only 10% of mobile EU citizens voted in their country of residence and 20% back home. The paper ends with a list of demands for revision: clearer obligations on Member States to inform EU citizens individually of their rights and to register them to vote automatically, sharing of best practice and setting up a help desk on cross-border voting.
The task force has not been content just to produce a paper! Our findings were presented to the joint hearing of European Parliament Committees on EU citizenship on 29 October 2020 by Anna Comacchio the representative of the citizens’ committee. The department on EU citizenship in the Commission’s Directorate General on Justice has started the process of consultation on the revision of the directives to which the task force responded in March 2021. To support the advocacy work of VWB, ECIT Foundation, together with Europeans Throughout The World (ETTW) and New Europeans, is setting up an all-party friendship group of MEPs. This new and promising initiative builds on the close links between the task force and a core group of a dozen MEPs who attended events organised by the foundation and the task force in 2020.