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EU citizens' voting and candidacy rights

As part of the Elections Act 2022, new legislation will come into effect, after the scheduled elections, that will impact EU citizens' voting and candidacy rights.

EU citizens' voting

In England the general right of European Union citizens to register, vote, and stand in UK elections which use the local election franchise will be removed.

Two groups of EU citizens will retain their voting and candidacy rights:

  • 'Qualifying EU citizens' - i.e. citizens of EU countries which have a reciprocal agreement with the UK Government, currently Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain - these countries are sometimes referred to as the EU4 
  • 'EU citizens with retained rights' - i.e. EU citizens from any other EU country who were already legally resident in the UK before 31/12/2020 - these countries are sometimes referred to as the EU20.

This change will not affect the rights of citizens from Ireland, Malta or Cyprus.

Changes to candidacy rights

  • The changes to candidacy rights for EU citizens are due to come into force from 7 May 2024. Transitional arrangements will enable EU citizens elected to office before this date to remain in office for their full term. 
  • After this date EU citizens standing as candidates will need to have been legally resident in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 (i.e., have leave to enter or remain in the UK, or do not require such leave) or be a citizen from an EU4 country (Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain) in order to be eligible to stand as a candidate. 

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