Expats and the ECI – an unasked question in the public consultation

August 1, 2017 News, Opinion

” Hi, I’d like to support this initiative but I am unable to register it. As a British national living in France, (…) the web page will not accept by British issued passport. Regards,….” We couldn´t believe it when we got this email back in 2012. But many more followed, and it turned out to be true that if you are a British or Irish citizen living in certain other countries you can not sign an ECI at all!

The countries are: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, and all Non-EU countries.

An issue not relevant for the commission?

The exclusion is due to the fact that different member states have set up different requirements for the personal data from signatories of an ECI.

  • Some national administrations accept signatures from citizens of their nationality only. “Nationals living in another member state should select that member state.” advises the EU commission on its Website
  • Ireland and Great Britain accept only signatories residing in their countries – but no Brits or Irish residing in any other country. So they can´t “select that member state” as advised by the commission. That´s it. No chance for British and Irish expats.

We feel this exclusion is discriminatory and it should have been changed right from the beginning of the ECI legislation entering into force. But is hasn´t, nor has the commission´s Website on the ECI any information with regard to this annoying issue.
Nor has the consultation of the EU commission any proper question about it either – after 5 years of ongoing discrimination!

End the exclusion of expats through the revision of the ECI regulation!

What can we do?
The consultation has some free space for individual answers, and we made use of the space demanding for an adequate solution. British and Irish citizens must be able to sign an ECI exactly as any other EU citizen. A revision of the ECI regulation 211/2011 could easily simplyfy and harmonise the requirements for personal data and thus end the exclusion of British and Irish expats.
Should you agree with us, please, do take part in the consultation and use some free space to share your individual opinion with the EU commission, too.

Last but not least, the European Ombudsman has made some clear remarks on the issue, which might be used as a blueprint for the consultation, in her letter to the EU commission, on behalf of the consultation:
“Simplifying data requirements for signing a statement of support for an ECI is a pressing matter in need of improvement. EU citizens should be able to sign ECIs regardless of where they are residing. As part of the upcoming review, I urge the Commission to propose simplifying and harmonising requirements for all Member States in terms of the personal data to be provided when signing a statement of support.” (The European Ombudsman´s letter to the European Commission on behalf of the consultation on the ECI)

For more infos, see our guidelines for the consultation:

See our answers to the consultation:

Go directly to the consultation of the EU commission (opne until August 16th)