Granting the Right to Vote for the European Parliament to Resident Third-Country Nationals: Civic Citizenship Revisited


  • Annette Schrauwen

    Search for more papers by this author
    • Professor in European integration and researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG), University of Amsterdam. This study is part of research theme 2 of the ACELG research programme 2009–2013, The Compound Economic Constitution of the EU: Institutions, Principles and Procedures. Thanks go to members of ACELG. An earlier version was presented at the Jean Monnet workshop The Reconceptualisation of European Union Citizenship at the University of Manchester, February 2011. I am grateful to all participants at the workshop for their valuable comments. Special thanks go to Dora Kostakopoulou for our discussion of this subject at a very early stage. Two anonymous reviewers have made very useful comments and suggestions, for which I thank them. Any mistakes are, of course, my own.


The EU grants rights to third-country nationals (TCNs) and strives to approximate their rights to those of Union citizens. Up to now, the approximation has extended to social and economic matters. This article investigates whether political rights, notably voting rights for the European Parliament (EP), should also be approximated. To this end, the analysis applies Dahl's democratic principles of ‘coercion’ and ‘all affected interests’ as well as Bauböck's principle of ‘stakeholding’ to the position of TCNs in the EU. Against that background, it explores the relevance of arguments for and against granting TCNs the right to vote in European elections and submits that voting rights should be granted to long-term resident TCNs. The author then proposes including TCN voting rights in the legal framework for EP elections and concludes by suggesting the use of the concept of civic citizenship to express political approximation of TCNs to EU citizens.