Europeans are more than ever aware of their status as citizens of the Union and the proportion of Europeans wanting to know more about their rights continues to increase. Four out of five Europeans cherish, in particular, the right to free movement that allows them to live, work, study and do business anywhere in the EU (December 2016 Eurobarometer). However, a lack of awareness means EU citizens do not fully exercise their right to vote in European and local elections and many are unaware of their right to consular protection from other Member States' embassies. The 2017 EU Citizenship Report sets out the Commission's priorities in further raising awareness of these rights and making them easier to use in practice.
Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, responsible for EU citizenship rights, said: “87% of Europeans are aware of their EU citizenship, which is more than ever before, but they are not always aware of the rights that come with EU citizenship. EU citizenship entails important rights and freedoms and also the possibility for democratic participation and active involvement in the EU decision making process. We want to empower citizens to know more about their EU rights and use them more easily.”
Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship: "The European Union exists for the European citizens and through them. To ensure that EU citizens can fully enjoy their rights and freedoms in times of increasing transnational challenges, we are committed to continuing our work on strengthening security within the EU and by stepping up the protection of our common external borders."
The report is based on input from citizens through surveys and a public consultation, and focuses on four areas: 1) promoting EU citizenship rights and EU common values; 2) increasing citizens' participation in the democratic life of the EU; 3) simplifying EU citizens' daily lives; 4) strengthening security and promoting equality.
In order to achieve these goals the Commission will take a number of actions, including:
- Organising an EU-wide information campaign on EU citizenship rights, to help citizens better understand their rights.
- Strengthening voluntary engagement: The Commission wants to create more opportunities for young people in Europe to make a meaningful contribution to society and show solidarity. The European Solidarity Corps, launched on 7 December 2016, gives young people the opportunity to gain valuable experience while showing solidarity to those in need.
- Proposing a ‘Single Digital Gateway' to give citizens easy online access to information, assistance and problem-solving services on a wide range of administrative questions.
- Intensifying the Citizens' Dialogues and public debate, to exchange views with EU citizens and increase their understanding of what impact the Union has on their daily lives. Already, 125 Citizens' dialogues have been organised since the beginning of the Juncker Commission.
- Promoting best practices to help citizens vote and stand for EU elections, particularly in the run up to the 2019 elections.
Any person who holds the nationality of an EU Member State is also an EU citizen. EU citizenship does not replace national citizenship, but complements it. It is a valuable status which gives citizens many freedoms such as free movement, consular protection, and the right to vote and stand as candidates in municipal and European Parliament elections wherever they live in the European Union.
The European Commission guarantees that rights associated with EU citizenship are a reality for citizens. Since 2010, it reports every three years on the main initiatives taken to promote and strengthen European citizenship. The reports are based on feedback from citizens, from petitions submitted, and from direct dialogues that Commissioners have with citizens. In 2015, the Commission carried out a public consultation and two surveys, which focused on EU citizenship and on electoral rights, to feed into the 2017 EU Citizenship Report.
For more information
Factsheet on Commission actions in the field of EU citizenship 2013-2016
Summary of the 2017 EU Citizenship report
Technical report on the legislative developments and jurisprudence on EU citizenship (Article 25)
2015 survey on electoral rights
2015 survey on citizenship