British man wins case after wrongly being removed from electoral roll in France

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 10 Mar, 2020 Updated Tue 10 Mar 2020 15:10 CEST
British man wins case after wrongly being removed from electoral roll in France

A British man with dual nationality has been reinstated on the French electoral roll after a tribunal ruled that he had been removed in error after Brexit.


Ronan O'Neill, who lives in the département of Yvelines just outside Paris, has dual British and Irish nationality by virtue of being born in Belfast.

But last month he learned that he had been struck off the electoral roll in France and would not be able to vote in the forthcoming municipal elections, because he was listed on the electoral roll as British.

The rules in France state that EU citizens who are full time residents in France can vote in local and European locals, although not in presidential elections.

Until recently this included British people, but on Brexit Day all British citizens lost their status as EU citizens and are therefore no longer allowed to vote in elections or stand for office in France.

READ ALSO 'We will miss our British councillors, they bring new ideas to France'

The exception to this is anyone who has dual nationality with another EU country, such as Ireland. 

As EU citizens they are allowed to remain in France without the need for further residence permits and they also retain the right to vote.

The French statistics body INSEE, which organises the electoral rolls, confirmed to French media that after Brexit it had been ordered by the Interior Ministry to remove all British citizens from electoral rolls.

However it added in a statement that: "It should be noted that only one nationality can be entered in the répertoire électoral unique or REU (electoral roll)" raising the possibility that other British dual nationals could also have been erroneously removed.

When Mr O'Neill learned of his removal, he took his case to a tribunal, which ruled that he should not have been removed and reinstated him to the roll.

Local media recorded the president of the Rambouillet tribunal telling Mr O'Neill: "The préfecture confirms that this disbarment does not take into account your dual nationality. You should not have been disbarred."

READ ALSO What you need to know about France's municipal elections

INSEE released a statement after the tribunal reading: "Brexit has resulted in the withdrawal of the right to vote from British citizens of EU member states.

"As manager of the REU, INSEE has been instructed by the Interior Ministry to remove all British citizens from the register.
"In order to carry out these removals, INSEE relied on the nationality indicated in the REU for each voter and removed the voters for whom this nationality variable was set to "British".
"It should be noted that only one nationality can be entered in the REU.
"The voter's nationality is information provided by the communes (or the voter in the case of an online application for registration) on the basis of the supporting documents provided.
"INSEE does not intervene at all in the consideration of a registration and the information contained in the REU is that resulting from the registration process, which is the responsibility of the mayor of the municipality.
"If people consider that they have been wrongly struck off the register because they have dual nationality, the only possibility now open to them, if they wish to take part in the municipal elections, is to apply to the judicial court.
"If the court asks for the person to be re-registered with Irish nationality, he or she will be able to vote and the REU will be corrected because all court decisions are sent to INSEE for modification of the REU."
The first round of voting for the local elections - which elect local officials ranging from village mayors to the Mayor of Paris - is on Sunday, March 15th.



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