Bilateral Voting Rights

Department for Exiting the European Union written statement – made on 12th June 2019.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union)

Today, I can confirm that the Government has reached a reciprocal agreement with Portugal that will secure the rights of UK nationals living in Portugal, and Portuguese citizens living in the UK, to stand and vote in local elections in both a deal and no deal. This agreement builds on our centuries of close ties with Portugal, dating back to the Anglo-Portuguese agreement in 1373, and is a welcome step towards our continuing close future relationship.

Citizens, including protecting the interests of British expats, have always been our priority in the negotiations for our departure from the EU. The UK pushed hard in negotiations to protect the right to stand and vote in local elections for UK nationals living in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, but these rights were not included in the Withdrawal Agreement. Instead, we have been pursuing bilateral arrangements with individual Member States to secure these rights on a bilateral basis. We have been clear that allowing EU citizens to vote in local elections in the UK should be considered alongside the rights and interests of UK nationals and it has been our priority to secure these reciprocally.

We have now reached agreements with Spain and Portugal and we are continuing our discussions with other Member States.

I will be depositing the latest agreement in the libraries of both Houses.