What happens to an EU citizen in a country outside the EU where there is no embassy or consulate of his/her own EU country? He/she is entitled to request the consular protection of any other EU country under the same conditions as the nationals of that country. Moreover, measures are being taken to further reinforce consular protection for EU citizens.
Consular protection rights of EU citizens
Any EU citizen in a non-EU country where his/her own national state has no representation is entitled to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any other EU state.
EU citizens are entitled to protection under the same conditions as the nationals of that country.
What kind of assistance is provided?
When an EU citizen seeks such help, he/she must produce a passport or identity card as proof of nationality. If these documents have been stolen or lost, the embassy may accept any other proof.
Diplomatic and consular representations giving protection have to treat a person seeking help as if he/she were a national of the EU country they represent.
The protection offered by embassies/consulates of other EU countries includes:
- assistance in cases of death;
- assistance in cases of serious accident or illness;
- assistance in cases of arrest or detention;
- assistance to victims of violent crime;
- the relief and repatriation of distressed Union citizens.
What is the European Commission doing in this area?
On 20 April 2015 the EU Member States adopted the Directive on consular protection for European citizens living or travelling outside the EU. The Directive clarifies when and how EU citizens in distress in a country outside the EU have the right to receive assistance from other EU countries' embassies or consulates. The aim is to ease cooperation between consular authorities and strengthen European citizens' right to consular protection.
On 14 December 2011 the Commission proposed a Directive on consular protection for EU citizens whose embassy/consulate is not represented in a third country. This legislative proposal outlines the cooperation and coordination measures necessary to facilitate consular protection for the benefit of the citizen and the consular authorities.
On 23 March 2011 the Commission published a Communication on consular protection which takes stock of the Action Plan 2007-2009 and presents future measures for the coming years.
The Commission also maintains a website on consular protection for the citizen which will contain, among other useful information, the contact details of EU countries consulates/embassies in countries outside the EU.
Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, this protection is conferred by Articles 20 and 23 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. This right is also enshrined in Article 46 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
The Communication of March 2011 followed up the Commission's Action Plan of December 2007 entailing the proposed measures for 2007-2009. The plan focused on enhancing consular protection and increasing awareness of this right among citizens.
In November 2006, the European Commission adopted a Green Paper on diplomatic and consular protection of EU citizens in third countries, which set out ideas to be considered for strengthening this right of EU citizens.