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EU citizens' electoral rights: Commission decides to refer CZECHIA and POLAND to the Court of Justice

The European Commission yesterday decided to refer Czechia and Poland to the Court of Justice, because in these two Member States EU citizens are restricted from joining a domestic political party. As a result of this restriction, citizens from other EU Member States residing in Czechia or Poland cannot fully exercise their right to stand as candidates in local elections and in elections to the European Parliament under the same conditions as nationals of those States. Czechia and Poland are the only two Member States where such a ban remains in place.

The Commission launched the infringement procedure against Czechia in 2012 and Poland in 2013 and followed up with reasoned opinions for both countries in April 2014. Both Czechia and Poland replied stating that their respective laws are in line with EU law. Most recently, on 2 December 2020, the Commission sent political letters to both Czechia and Poland asking for an update, within two months, on any legislative changes. In the follow up, there has been no notification of any legislative developments addressing the issue. The Commission maintains that the restrictions hindering non-Czech and non-Polish EU citizens in Czechia and Poland respectively to join a political party are contrary to EU law as they breach Articles 20(2)(b) and 22 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality.

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