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EU citizenship


Your rights and how to use them

All nationals of an European Union member country are automatically citizens of the EU. EU citizenship complements national citizenship and gives you some important additional rights.

Your EU citizenship rights

European banknotes and a passport in a wallet © iStockphoto

With a valid passport or identity card, EU citizens can live in another EU country for up to 3 months.

Your rights as an EU citizen are spelled out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 20) and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Chapter V). You can find more information about your rights in Your Europe and Europe Direct.

Moving and 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 fulfil certain conditions. For example, when entering another EU country you may be asked to show identification and, to live in another EU country for more than three months, you must meet certain conditions depending on whether you are working, studying, etc.

Participating in the political life of the EU

Hand placing an envelope in a ballot box with the EU flag in the background © iStockphoto

All EU citizens have the right to vote in the European Parliament elections.

Every EU citizen has the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections for the European Parliament and in municipal elections in whichever EU country they live, under the same conditions as nationals.

Complaints

The right to petition allows you, as an EU citizen, to raise concerns or complaints with the European Parliament. You can ask the Parliament to address either a personal need or grievance, or a matter of public interest. The subject must fall within the EU’s sphere of activity and must concern you directly.

For grievances concerning misconduct by an EU institution or body, you can complain to the European Ombudsman.

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

Consular protection

When in a non EU country and in need of help, as an EU citizen you are entitled to consular protection from the embassy or consulate of any other EU country. You can expect assistance in situations including death, accident or illness, arrest or detention, violent crime and repatriation.

Citizens’ initiative

The European Citizens’ Initiative allows you to ask the European Commission to prepare a proposal for a legal act. The petition must be signed by at least 1 million citizens from at least one quarter of the EU's countries.

Active participation in the civic life of the EU

Besides the above rights, the EU encourages all citizens and organisations to play an active role in the development of the EU. The Europe for Citizens programme funds initiatives in areas such as participation and democracy at EU level, intercultural dialogue, employment, social cohesion and sustainable development, and the societal impact of EU policies. The Fundamental Rights and Citizenship programme promotes the rights of EU citizens.

The European Year of Citizens in 2013 provides opportunities to inform citizens about their EU rights and engage with them in a dialogue about EU citizenship.

To promote EU citizenship, the Commission publishes an EU Citizenship Report .

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