Thursday

7th Dec 2023

UK to block 1.5m EU citizens from referendum

  • Yousaf said it's illogical to 'disenfranchise [the 1.5m] over their own future' (Photo: secretlondon123)

Most of the 1.5 million citizens from other EU countries living in the UK will be excluded from voting in its referendum on EU membership, the UK government has said.

In a statement on Monday (25 May), it announced that citizens from just three EU countries - Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus - along with residents from Commonwealth countries, will be eligible.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Malta and Cyprus are Commonwealth members, while Irish citizens have the right to vote in the UK.

UK nationals who have lived overseas for less than 15 years will also have the right to vote in the ‘in/out’ poll, which prime minister David Cameron has promised will take place before the end of 2017.

More than 2 million Britons live and work elsewhere in the EU.

The rules governing the referendum will be set out in an EU Referendum Bill set to be introduced in Westminster on Thursday.

It will be broadly the same as for a general election, rather than local or European elections, when all EU citizens are able to vote. In total, just over 45 million people will be eligible. Unlike the referendum on Scottish independence held last September, the franchise will not include 16 and 17-year-olds.

The exclusions were criticised by Humza Yousaf, the Europe minister in the Scottish government, who said the UK government risks using “the rhetoric of division”.

"Excluding EU citizens, many of whom live here for a number of years, pay their taxes, their children attend local schools, to disenfranchise them over their own future in this vote is illogical, is utterly perverse and creates a democratic deficit,” he said.

The Scottish National party and the opposition Labour party want the voting age to be lowered to 16 and are expected to join forces to table amendments.

For his part, Ukip leader Nigel Farage welcomed the proposed rules as “sensible and reasonable”.

The government is considering whether to launch a Treasury study into the economic impact on Britain if it leaves the 28-country bloc or is able to obtain reforms.

Last week, the Bank of England accidentally revealed that it has begun a secret audit to examine the potential costs of a Brexit.

Cameron kicks off EU reform tour

UK prime minister David Camerion will meet five government leaders this week about Britain's future in the EU. Meanwhile, Germany and France have plans for more eurozone integration.

Spain's Nadia Calviño backed to be EIB's first female chief

With less than a month to go before the start of a new leadership of the European Investment Bank, the world's largest multilateral lender, the path seems finally clear for one of the candidates, Spanish finance minister Nadia Calviño.

Analysis

Is there hope for the EU and eurozone?

While some strengths may have been overlooked recently, leading to a more pessimistic outlook on the EU and the euro area than the truly deserve, are there reasons for optimism?

Latest News

  1. EU suggests visa-bans on Israeli settlers, following US example
  2. EU ministers prepare for all-night fiscal debate
  3. Spain's Nadia Calviño backed to be EIB's first female chief
  4. Is there hope for the EU and eurozone?
  5. Crunch talks seek breakthrough on EU asylum overhaul
  6. Polish truck protest at Ukraine border disrupts war supplies
  7. 'Green' banks lend most to polluters, reveals ECB
  8. Tense EU-China summit showdown unlikely to bear fruit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us