EU citizenship, conferred automatically on any EU national, brings with it a number of important rights.
What is EU citizenship?
- Any person who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen. EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace national citizenship. It is for each EU country to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality of that country.
- Citizenship of the Union is conferred directly on every EU citizen by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
What rights do you have as an EU citizen?
The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union entails the right to:
- move and reside freely within the EU;
- vote for and stand as a candidate in European Parliament and municipal elections;
- be protected by the diplomatic and consular authorities of any other EU country;
- petition the European Parliament and complain to the European Ombudsman.
These rights apply to all EU citizens.
EU citizens are entitled to other rights including:
- the right to contact and receive a response from any EU institution in one of the EU's official languages;
- the right to access European Parliament, European Commission and Council documents under certain conditions; and
- the right of equal access to the EU Civil Service.
The Treaty also prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality.
The Lisbon Treaty introduced a new form of public participation for European citizens, the Citizens' Initiative. This allows one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of EU countries to call directly on the European Commission to bring forward an initiative of interest to them within the framework of its powers.
What is the European Commission doing in this area?
The Commission monitors the implementation and application by Member States of the EU citizenship rights as provided by the Treaty.
In its Citizenship Report 2010 [154 KB], it identified the main obstacles that citizens still face when making use of their EU rights in their daily lives as well as actions to eliminate these obstacles. The report was accompanied by a report on progress towards effective EU citizenship [106 KB]. Both reports built on the results of a public consultation that took place in 2010. The Commission delivered on its commitments (see progress )
The Commission adopted its second EU Citizenship Report on 8 May 2013 during the European Year of Citizens. This report draws a detailed account of progress on the 25 actions put forward in 2010 and presents 12 new initiatives in 6 key areas to promote EU Citizenship and remove remaining obstacles preventing citizens from drawing the full benefits that EU citizenship offers. It is accompanied by the report on progress towards effective EU citizenship 2011-2013 .
The 2013 EU Citizenship Report is based on testimonies and ideas by citizens collected through a wide ranging consultation process launched on 9 May 2012. This notably involved an online public consultation on EU citizenship to gather citizens' experiences on the ground and their ideas on how to reinforce EU citizenship (see results by country), two Eurobarometer surveys in 2013 (Flash Eurobarometer EU citizenship and electoral rights ), the Committee of the Regions' study on obstacles to free movement and political rights and events such as the Committee of the Regions' Forum of 28 November 2012, the hearing jointly organised by the European Parliament and the Commission on 19 February 2013, and the Commission's Citizens' Dialogues.
As promised in its 2013 EU Citizenship Report, the Commission launched a handbook giving citizens information on their main EU rights in simple words and a few pictures ("Did you know? 10 EU rights at a glance").
More information on rights as an EU citizen: Your Europe - citizens' portal