EU citizenship: know your rights
Becoming an EU citizen does not take any effort; anyone with the nationality of an EU country is also an EU citizen. Over 500 million people from 28 countries can call themselves EU citizens, but what does EU citizenship mean?
EU citizenship entails a number of important rights. Some of them, such as freedom of movement, are obvious and often taken for granted, but there are other rights that make a difference in our daily lives, like reasonable roaming costs or being able to return products bought online.
Below is a list of 10 rights that you have as an EU citizen:
- European and local elections: if you live in another EU country, you have the right to vote and stand as a candidate in European Parliament and local elections there, under the same conditions as nationals of that country.
- Make your voice heard: you can launch or support a European Citizen’s Initiative to ask the Commission to put a certain issue on the agenda, and you can petition the European Parliament or the European Ombudsman if you want to make a complaint.
- Free movement: you can train, study and work anywhere in the EU.
- Healthcare: you have the right to receive healthcare and choose planned healthcare in any EU country. You also benefit from high EU food safety standards.
- Consumer rights: you can rely on fair treatment and receive full and clear information before you buy. You are protected when shopping online, have ways of sorting things out if something goes wrong and benefit from product safety rules.
- Travel: you are protected by a set of passenger rights, get extra protection if you buy package holidays and can go to any other EU Member State’s consulate or embassy to ask for help if necessary. If you have a disability or reduced mobility, you should be able to travel without discrimination.
- Telecoms: you have the right to benefit from quality fixed telecom lines at fair prices anywhere in the EU. Providers should give transparent and up-to-date information so that you can easily compare prices. Your phone company has to give you a clear written contract; you can change telecoms operator without changing your phone number, and pay fair roaming prices anywhere you want to use your phone in the EU.
- Cross-border divorces and separations: you can rely on clear and predictable legal procedures in choosing the country in which to arrange a divorce or separation, and have your judgment more easily recognised and enforced in another EU country.
- Crime victims’ rights and a fair trial: you can rely on specific safeguards if you are a victim of a crime, and you can rely on getting a fair trial anywhere in the EU.
- Information and guidance: you have the right to contact the EU bodies in your own language and receive information and assistance.
For more information on your rights as an EU citizen, and on how you can get involved in European politics, visit the EU Citizenship Portal.