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UK citizens in EU can't vote in local elections, ECJ rules

British nationals living in EU countries are not allowed to vote or run in municipal elections as an "automatic consequence" of Brexit, the bloc's top court said. A Briton residing in France since the 1980s had appealed.

The Union Jack Flag is seen in the foreground, and EU flags and the European Commission building in Brussels in the background

The UK launched a referendum to leave the EU and 2016, and formally exited two years ago

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Thursday that British citizens living in EU countries have no voting rights in municipal elections. 

The ruling is the latest case regarding the rights of UK nationals residing in the EU's 27 countries after Britain's exit from the bloc

What is the case?

The ECJ ruled in the case launched by a British woman who has lived in France for more than 30 years. She had appealed to the court after being stripped of the right to vote in French local elections.

She is also not allowed to vote in British elections, as per a UK law that prohibits Brits from casting their votes if they had lived abroad for more than 15 years. 

EU nationals living in countries within the bloc other than their countries of citizenship are allowed to cast their votes in local elections. 

According to Thursday's ruling, British citizens who are residents in EU countries can only vote or run for office if they obtain EU citizenship, to which the plaintiff had declined to apply. 

More Bitter than Sweet: Brexit Losers and Winners

Brexit consequences

The Luxembourg-based court ruled that British people who have lived in EU countries even prior to Brexit "no longer enjoy the status of citizen of the Union, nor, more specifically, the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections in their Member State of residence,'' according to a court statement.

It said that "this is an automatic consequence of the sole sovereign decision taken by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union." 

fb/msh (AP, dpa)