The European Parliament on July 4 backed new measures to modernise the European electoral law. The aim is to boost EU citizens’ participation in the European elections and enhance the European character of the procedure.

The new measures were endorsed by 397 votes to 207 against, with 62 abstentions.

One of the new provisions approved by the MEPs is a proposal to introduce a mandatory threshold for constituencies with more than 35 seats. This threshold must not go below 2% and not exceed 5% of the votes cast. The new rule will also apply to single-constituency member states with more than 35 seats.

Of the EU countries with more than 35 seats, all except Spain and Germany have a statutory electoral threshold for the EU elections. These two countries will now have to comply with the new obligation and introduce a threshold in time for the European elections in 2024, at the latest.

According to a European Parliament press release, other elements in the new electoral law include a requirement for EU countries to introduce and enforce effective and dissuasive penalties to prevent double voting (in the event that an EU citizen votes twice in more than one country).

EU member states would also need to designate a contact authority responsible for exchanging information on EU citizens who want to vote or be a political candidate in a country of which they are not nationals. This data exchange must start at least six weeks before the EU elections.

EU countries may also allow for the name and logo of European political parties to be displayed on national ballot papers and provide for the possibility of advance, postal, electronic and internet voting, as long as certain criteria, such as protection of personal data and secrecy of the vote, are respected.

The next step, after approval by the plenary, is for the provisions to be approved by all EU member states.