Petition letter to José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, president-in-turn of the EU

EU citizenship and the right to vote of all residents


In the European Union, political rights of non-national EU residents are still an unresolved matter. To a great extent this is due to the Maastricht Treaty, which strictly reserves, EU citizenship for nationals of Member States, resulting in a form of discrimination that denies rights on the grounds of nationality. Unfortunately, the Lisbon Treaty only confirms this position.


The undersigned associations believe European citizenship should be subject to residence, in the conditions established, but not necessarily to nationality of a Member State. Only 8 out of 27 Member States have a population that exceeds the 15 million non-national EU residents living in EU territory. States cannot claim equal rights and democracy as the Union’s foundations and, then, exclude millions of residents from political participation.


Several countries have extended the right to vote in local elections to non-national EU residents and, in some places, foreigners have also been granted passive suffrage (the right to stand for election). In the United Kingdom, Commonwealth nationals are granted active and passive suffrage in all elections, including local and European elections.


The Tampere Summit Conclusions (16/10/1999), “towards a Union of freedom, security and justice”, follows the same trend. Without mentioning citizenship or the right to vote, the document states: “The legal status of third country nationals should be approximated to that of Member States' nationals. A person, who has resided legally in a Member State for a period of time to be determined and who holds a long-term residence permit, should be granted in that Member State a set of uniform rights which are as near as possible to those enjoyed by EU citizens”. 


Despite its independence from the EU, it is worth noticing that the Council of Europe fostered the European Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level, which encouraged the recognition of foreigner residents’ right to vote in local elections. All EU Member States are members of the Council of Europe and some of them ratified this Convention.


In light of the aforementioned, we ask you to please raise the reform of the Lisbon Treaty during the last meeting of the Council of Europe to be held under the Spanish presidency-in-turn (on 17th and 18th June in Brussels). We need a reform that grants EU citizenship and, consequently, the right to vote and stand for local and European elections, to all EU residents, regardless of their nationality. We think this is a great opportunity to mend your ways with the Lisbon Treaty and we believe it will be, in the eyes of the rest of the world, a very important step of the EU towards equal rights, respect for human rights and democracy.




Signatory Associations and Organisations








































































































Please forward the signatures to until 30th May.


This letter will be sent, together with all the signatures, to the President of the Spanish Government, Mr Rodríguez Zapatero, and to the media.