All citizens 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 [2 MB] .
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.
Every EU citizen has the right to vote and stand as a candidate in both local and European elections in the EU country they live in, under the same conditions as nationals of that country.
You can petition the European Parliament to address either a personal need or grievance, or on a matter of public interest. The subject must fall within the EU’s remit (i.e. it mustn’t be something that is decided at local or national level) and must affect you directly.
You can complain to the European Ombudsman about misconduct by an EU institution or body.
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.
If you are in a non-EU country and need help, as an EU citizen you are entitled to consular protection from the embassy or consulate of any other EU country, if your own country does not have an embassy or consulate in the non-EU country.
You can ask for assistance in situations involving, for example, death, accident or illness, arrest or detention, being the victim of violent crime and repatriation.
The European Citizens’ Initiative allows you to ask the European Commission to prepare legislation. The petition must be signed by at least 1 million people from at least one quarter of the EU's countries (currently at least 7 countries).
Various initiatives encourage citizens and organisations to play an active role in the EU:
Published in November 2014
This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series