The Right to Participate in the European Elections and the Vertical Division of Competences in the European Union

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. An enforceable right to participate in European elections. – III. The broad scope of application of the right to participate in European elections vis-à-vis Member States. – III.1. A right applicable to Member States. – III.2. A right applicable in purely internal situations. – IV. The right to participate in European elections, a potential disruptor of the distribution of powers between the European Union and Member States. – IV.1. A new citizenship right? – IV.2. A potential minimum EU standard for national election law. – V. Conclusion.

Abstract: Although EU Law provides that Member States have to organise European elections at universal direct suffrage, there is no explicit provision in EU law granting Union citizens the right to vote and to stand as a candidate for these elections. This right was discovered only recently by the CJEU. It has a broad scope of application vis-à-vis Member States, since it is applicable to national electoral legislation, including in purely internal situations. All this combined has the potential of blurring the distribution of powers between the European Union and the Member States in the field of election law.

Keywords: right to participate in the European elections – Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – federalism – EU citizens’ rights – scope of EU law – vertical distribution of powers.

European Papers, Vol. 3, 2018, No 3, pp. 1245-1264
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/268

* Professor of Public Law, University of Bordeaux,


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