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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Strengthening consular rights for Europeans abroad

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On Wednesday, the European Commission proposed to improve assistance for EU citizens caught in crisis situations – such as those that occurred in Japan, Libya or Egypt this year – and day-to-day emergencies when travelling abroad. The aim is to ease cooperation between consular authorities and strengthen European citizens' right to consular protection by clarifying current rules.

Currently, EU citizens abroad have the right to ask for assistance from a consulate or an embassy of another EU member state when their own is not represented in the country. EU member states must help citizens evacuate as if they were their own nationals. Today’s proposals will strengthen these rights by clarifying when a citizen is considered unrepresented and specifying the type of assistance member states typically provide in cases of need, such as arrest, a serious accident or lost documents.

The proposal comes as part of the Commission's EU Citizenship report, and follows on from other actions, notably the creation of an interactive website on consular protection which provides helpful information for citizens in crisis situations.

EU Justice Minister Viviane Reding said that the right to equal consular protection "can be a great example of EU solidarity all over the world." "All 27 EU Member States need to ensure the best support for EU citizens when they are in need outside the EU – regardless of their nationality".