E.P. v. Préfet du Gers e Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques, Case C-673/20, CJEU, (Grand Chamber), 9 June 2022
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) gave recently a preliminary ruling on the loss of European citizenship and the exercise of the right to vote in municipal elections in the Member State of residence.
The referral to the CJEU by the French Tribunal Judiciaire d'Auch stems from a dispute between a UK citizen, resident in France since 1984, and the Préfet du Gers and the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques. In the present case, following the entry into force of the Agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (1 February 2020), Ms. E. P. was removed from the French electoral roll, being excluded from the municipal elections of 15 March 2020. Having unsuccessfully tried the ordinary procedures for reinstatement on the electoral roll, E. P. turned to the Court of Auch. The latter availed itself of the preliminary ruling procedure, arguing that E. P. had been deprived of her right to vote. In fact, she had lost her right to vote in the UK in compliance with the British norm providing that a citizen who resides abroad for more than 15 years is no longer entitled to participate in the UK elections. Under Article 127 of the Withdrawal Agreement, she also had been also deprived of her right to vote both in the EU Parliamentary elections and in municipal elections in France. The national court, therefore, referred the question to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling, asking whether Articles 9 and 50 TEU, Articles 20 and 22 TFEU and Article 127 of the Withdrawal Agreement should be interpreted as entailing the withdrawal of the European citizenship for those British citizens who, before the end of the transitional period, had exercised their right of free movement and residence, thereby enjoying their right to vote in municipal and European Parliament elections in their Member State of residence.
The CJEU’s Grand Chamber ruled that since the entry into force of the Withdrawal Agreement (1 February 2020), British citizens no longer possess European citizenship, being the UK a third country and no longer a Member State. The judges, indeed, recalled that the possession of the nationality of a Member State is an indispensable condition for a person to acquire or retain - as in this specific case - the status of EU citizen.
The CJEU concluded that British citizens no longer enjoy the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections in their Member State of residence under Articles 20(2)(b) and 22 TFEU. Moreover, it is irrelevant in this regard that UK nationals have previously exercised their right of residence in a Member State.
(Comment by Edin Skrebo)