The first European Elections after the adoption of Lisbon Treaty: Ensuring the Electoral Rights of Citizens in the EU
Research paper by Eli Hadzhieva
© European Parliament
The Lisbon Treaty increased the powers of the European Parliament along with the visibility of the fundamental rights of EU citizens. Yet these legal improvements are not sufficient to render the upcoming European Parliament elections truly representative and to bridge the long-debated democratic gap. Lack of harmonisation of electoral laws, incoherent enfranchisement of non-nationals, different naturalisation regimes and multiple forms of minority inclusion deprives EU citizens and peoples of the EU from full enjoyment of their electoral rights, sometimes undermining the principle of equality and non-discrimination. Given the rise of eurosceptics and extremist parties, addressing this issue becomes even more pressing. Neither the Treaty nor the case law provides legal clarity and a clear cut division of competences as electoral rights are seen as a sensitive area and left at the discretion of Member States. As the failure to guarantee these fundamental rights for all citizens in the EU, including long-term residents and minority populations would put the substance of the EU project in danger, European representative democracy is in need of urgent solutions.
Eli Hadzhieva is Founder and Director EURELIZ European Public Affairs and Communications Consultancy.