Belgium has officially confirmed that young people aged 16 and over will be able to vote in the next European elections in 2024.
Although the announcement was made almost one year ago, the legislative process in the Parliament has now been finalised, officially giving 16- and 17-year-olds a vote in European politics for the first time during the elections.
"By giving young people the chance to actively participate in our democracy, they can make their voices heard and further stimulate their interest in politics," Verlinden said in a statement.
"Young people are the future, and they will now be able to help shape that future. I am glad that we are taking this historic step today."
Who can vote, and how?
This means that, in the 2024 European elections, some 270,000 young people of Belgian nationality or that of another EU Member State aged 16 or 17 and residing in Belgium on the day of the elections will be able to vote.
The almost 13,000 Belgian young people aged 16 and 17 who live abroad are also entitled to vote, according to Verlinden's cabinet. To do so, they must first register on the electoral register. Once this has happened, they are also obliged to vote by Belgian law.
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Belgium is now the fourth country in the EU — after Austria, Greece and Malta — to meet the bloc's demand that young people from the age of 16 should have the opportunity to vote.
This change is currently only being made to the voting rights for the European elections as this requires a simple majority, whereas a two-thirds majority is needed to alter the voting age for the federal elections, as the constitution has to be changed to do so.