Elections May 2019
For the attention of Belgians residing in the United Kingdom who registered as voters for the Belgian elections
If you registered as a voter at the Embassy of Belgium in London before 31/01/2019 (deadline for registrations), you will soon cast your vote either in person, by proxy or by post, according to the choice you made on your registration form.
Where and when shall you vote ? Depending on your voting mode, relevant practical information is available in French (lien) and Dutch (link)
Attention: if you chose to vote in person at the Belgian consular representation where you are registered, please go to the following address on Wednesday 22 May 2019 between 13.00 and 21.00 : 36 Belgrave Square, SW1X 8QB, London (link to google maps)
- Bring a valid identity document with photo with you (Belgian identity card or Belgian passport).
- Only Belgians whose names are mentioned on the voters’ list will gain access to the polling station.
- You might undergo security checks. Please do not bring big bags or cases.
- Whenever possible, avoid peak hours (between 1pm and 2pm and from 4pm to 7pm) in order to minimize the waiting times.
Local councils in the United Kingdom recently sent a letter for registration as a voter for the European elections – British lists.
Unless you requested your consular representation in London to provide you an extra form to register as a voter for the European elections – Belgian lists and you returned this form by 01/02/2019, you are only registered for the federal legislative elections and can still register for the European elections – British lists.
At the beginning of April, Belgium responded to the EU’s appeal to all Member States to draw up preliminary measures for the UK’s exit from the EU. Consequently, Belgium passed the so called ‘Brexit law’. This law contains a specific clause regarding voting by Belgians residing in the UK. The legislator wanted to provide them with the opportunity to cast their vote for the Belgian lists at the European elections in case the UK were to leave the Union before 26th May and thus not participate in the European elections.
In order to guarantee their right to participate in the elections for the Chamber of Representatives and the renewal of the European Parliament on 26th May, Belgians living abroad had to register to vote by 31st January 2019 with their consulate. They were informed accordingly by letter.
The provisions for the European Parliamentary elections differ for compatriots who reside in an EU country and those living outside the EU. Belgians residing in the EU have the right to cast their vote in the member state where they reside. If they wish to vote for the Belgian lists, they need to explicitly notify their consulate and fill in the required form. Belgians living in the UK are subject to procedures applicable in the EU and therefore had to express their wish to vote for the Belgian list at the European Parliament in order to exercise this right.
Up until today, the UK has not left the EU and the British government has confirmed that European elections will take place on 23rd May. Consequently, Belgian citizens living in the UK can vote in their country of residence according to European rules. They can only vote for the Belgian list provided they renounced their voting rights in the UK and registered with the Belgian consulate to participate in the European elections. The Belgian Brexit law has thus not come into effect. There are no changes for the elections of the Chamber.
In a nutshell, since the UK has not left the EU:
- Are voting for the European Parliament in the UK: Belgians who registered to participate with the local Council,
- Are voting for the Belgian lists: Belgians registered with the consulate to participate in the European elections organised by Belgium and who renounced their voting rights in the UK,
- Are voting for the Belgian Chamber of Representatives: all Belgians registered with the consulate to vote.
Communication from the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs: Rights of Belgian citizens in the context of Brexit
On the 15th of January, on the 12th of March and on the 29th of March 2019, the British Parliament rejected the withdrawal agreement that was negotiated with the EU. This rejection does not necessarily mean a hard Brexit (no deal scenario). Any scenario still remains a possibility.
Meanwhile, it has been decided to postpone the exit date to the 31th of October 2019 in case the withdrawal agreement is not accepted by British Parliament (no deal scenario).
Given the current uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the impossibility to predict which scenario will apply, the information on this website is susceptible to evolve in light of political events. Nor can this information be considered as legal advice, that neither the Belgian Foreign Office nor the Belgian Embassy in London are in a position to provide.
We draw your attention to the fact that, in the case of a "no deal", any decision concerning the rights of Belgians to travel to, settle in or stay in the United Kingdom will be the sole responsibility of the British authorities.
© Tom D'Haenens
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