All nationals of an EU country are automatically citizens of the EU. Being an EU citizen gives you some important extra rights and responsibilities.
To raise awareness of EU citizenship among both the public and national authorities, the Commission periodically publishes an EU Citizenship Report .
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.
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 both municipal and European elections in whichever EU country they live, under the same conditions as nationals.
You can petition the European 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 about 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 are entitled to a reply in any of the EU’s 24 official languages.
With a valid passport or identity card, EU citizens can live in another EU country for up to 3 months.
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.
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 people from at least one quarter of the EU's countries.
Various initiatives encourage citizens and organisations to play an active role in the EU:
Manuscript updated in November 2014
This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series