In 2019, it was estimated that of the over 17 million mobile citizens in the EU, almost 14 million were eligible to vote (over 3% of the total EU voting population). Yet, turnout rates and the number of mobile EU citizens standing as candidates continue to be lower than comparable groups on a national level, and they still face difficulties in exercising their electoral rights. This indicates that there are issues for mobile EU citizens in fully exercising their electoral rights. If they cannot fully access their democratic rights, the result may be a "representation gap", in which their views are systematically less represented than those of other EU citizens.
The issue of voting rights in national elections for mobile EU citizens is a long-standing one. Some Member States such as Italy and France encourage their diaspora to vote in national elections from abroad and even elect MPs to represent the constituencies of their citizens living outside the national territory.
The political participation of older people in Europe differs from that of younger people. The inclusion of older people matters for ageing democracies. In recent years, participation in such elections has declined. Older generations have tended to want their civil and political rights to be linked to their Member State of origin. But younger, more mobile citizens often feel a stronger sense of belonging to the city where they live and work, and to the European project as a whole. It will be interesting to see how local authorities have tried to include senior mobile EU citizens in the democratic life of host countries – in particular, given that many may not have been able to travel during the pandemic.
This session will bring together local and regional authorities, NGOs, researchers and experts from the European Commission to discuss best practices and present successful projects that have been implemented to support the participation and inclusion of mobile EU citizens at local level, with the focus on the older generation. It will also provide policy-makers on local, regional, national and EU levels with recommendations aimed at promoting the inclusion of EU mobile citizens, active citizenship and democratic participation.