European Citizenship – what it gives you in addition to your national citizenship

If you are a citizen in one of the member states of the EU you also enjoy the rights of
having a European Citizenship.  What does that mean?

The EU decided in its Maastricht Treaty from 1993 that all citizens in its member states in
addition to the rights being a citizen in their own countries would from then on enjoy a
number of additional rights, freedoms and protections. And these rights are automatic
and valid permanently.  You do not have to apply for them.  You simply have them, when
you are a citizen of a member state in the European Union.

What are these European citizen rights then ?

  • You enjoy free movement in all member states. You can go anywhere at anytime
  • You are free to settle down in all member state where you want to
  • You have the right to study and work everywhere in the EU
  • You are free to take goods, services and capital with you anywhere
  • You are protected against any discrimination anywhere in the EU.  This might be
    discrimination due to nationality, religion, gender, colour, etc. You have the right to be treated in exactly the same way as the citizens of the country you are in
  •  You have the right to complain directly to the courts, including the European Court of Justice if you think that your rights are not respected
  • You have the right to vote in local elections in the country you stay in on the same
    conditions as the citizens of that country.  And you also have the right to be a
    candidate in local elections
  • When travelling outside the EU you have the right to get help from any embassy or
    consulate of a member state of the EU, if your own country does not have an embassy in the country you visit or stay in.  And you have the right to get exactly the same assistance as the citizens of the country of the embassy or consulate.

You can read much more about your rights in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in the European Union.   It is now part of EU’s Lisbon Treaty of 2009 and therefore legally binding in all member states.

The EU Commission regularly presents reports on important issues related to European
Citizenship. To the last report in 2017, ETTW presented an opinion on what is working,
where there are problems and what should be improved. You’ll find a link to the report
under the heading ‘ETTW opinion on EU Citizenship Report 2020’.

Niels Thøgersen

Photo: Pixabay