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European Union

EU citizenship

EU citizenship

Your rights – and how to use them

All citizens of an EU country are automatically citizens of the EU. Being an EU citizen gives you some important extra rights and responsibilities.

Your EU citizenship rights

These are spelled out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 18) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Chapter V).

Need help exercising your rights?

To raise awareness of EU citizenship among both the public and national authorities, the Commission periodically publishes an EU Citizenship Report.

Summaries of EU legislation on EU citizenship

Moving & living in the EU

As an EU citizen, you have the right to live and move within the EU without being discriminated against on the grounds of your nationality.

You may set up home in any EU country if you meet certain conditions, depending on whether you are working, studying, etc.

Participating in the political life of the EU

Every EU citizen has the right to vote and stand as a candidate in both local and European elections in the EU country they live in, under the same conditions as nationals of that country.

Petitions & complaints

You can petition the European Parliament to address either a personal need or grievance, or on a matter of public interest. The subject must fall within the EU’s remit (i.e. it mustn’t be something that is decided at local or national level) and must affect you directly.

You can complain to the European Ombudsman about misconduct by an EU institution or body.

You can also contact EU institutions and advisory bodies directly, and are entitled to a reply in any of the EU’s 24 official languages.

Consular protection

If you are in a non-EU country and need help, as an EU citizen you are entitled to consular protection from the embassy or consulate of any other EU country, if your own country does not have an embassy or consulate in the non-EU country.

You can ask for assistance in situations involving, for example, death, accident or illness, arrest or detention, being the victim of violent crime and repatriation.

How to get involved in European policy-making

Citizens’ initiative : setting the agenda

The European Citizens’ Initiative allows you to ask the European Commission to prepare legislation. The petition must be signed by at least 1 million people from at least one quarter of the EU's countries (currently at least 7 countries).

Active participation in the democratic life of the EU

  • Europe for Citizens programme – this aims to improve people’s understanding of the EU, its history and diversity, to develop awareness of the rights granted by European citizenship, and to increase democratic participation at EU level.
  • the Commission regularly launches public consultations on initiatives it is planning, allowing every European to have their say on the issues.
  • Citizens' Dialogues – these are held in cities across the EU, to listen to people’s views and discuss issues people are concerned about.
  • Civil Dialogue – these are discussions between the Commission and civil society organisations who specialise in various subjects.
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