Commission presents a set of measures to reinforce rights of EU citizens

ByEuropean Commission

Commission presents a set of measures to reinforce rights of EU citizens

European citizenship is one of the most significant achievements of the EU. To mark the 30th anniversary of European citizenship, the European Commission is presenting a package of measures aiming to strengthen EU citizenship rights across the Union. Individuals holding the nationality of an EU country enjoy a set of rights and benefits that are distinct from being a national of a specific Member State, including the right to free movement, consular protection and to actively participate in democratic processes.

The 2023 EU Citizenship Report highlights the progress made in enhancing and promoting citizenship rights, common values, and democratic participation in the EU since the publication of the last Citizenship Report in 2020.

The Commission is proposing to amend the rules established under the Consular Protection Directive to protect and support EU citizens abroad in times of crisis. This proposal has been prepared in close cooperation with the High Representative, under whose authority works the EEAS and the EU Delegations in third countries. As part of the package, the Commission is also presenting new guidance on the right to free movement, a guide to good electoral practices for citizens with disabilities, a compendium of e-voting practices, as well as a guide to EU citizenship.

The Commission is also adopting its first report on the implementation of the European Citizenship Initiative Regulation and releasing the latest Citizenship and Democracy Eurobarometer survey which focuses on EU citizens’ awareness of their citizenship rights.

Delivering on stronger EU citizenship rights

Among the initiatives, the Commission proposes to revise the EU Consular Protection Directive to ensure better and easier protection for EU citizens in a third country, where their country of nationality does not have a consulate or embassy. Therefore, EU citizens should be able to get clearer information and exercise their rights for assistance and protection.

The proposal includes measures to:

  • simplify procedures and make the best use of the EU’s global network of EU delegations, Member States´ embassies, and consulates to better assist citizens in need;
  • reinforce crisis preparedness and response measures, including by conducting regular consular crisis exercises and preparing crisis consular plans with an assessment of possible risks and an estimate of EU citizens present for each country;
  • send joint teams of consular experts to reinforce diplomatic and consular staff during crises.

The revised guidance on free movement aims to help Member State authorities and national courts correctly apply EU free movement rules. The previous version of the guidance from 2009 was updated notably to reflect the evolutions in the case law of the European Court of Justice, taking into account the diversity of families including rainbow families. The new guidance provides legal and practical interpretation and examples of key free movement rights questions.

The 2023 Citizenship Report provides an overview of all relevant policy initiatives on EU citizenship since 2020, for example on facilitating travel during the pandemic using the EU Digital COVID Certificate, initiatives to address the difficulties faced by mobile EU citizens, and work to step up inclusive democratic processes and ensure equal opportunities in elections.

The guide of good electoral practices for citizens with disabilities, as announced in the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, presents an overview of good electoral practices from different Member States aiming to further improve the participation of citizens with disabilities in the electoral process.

The compendium of e-voting practices presented today gathers e-voting and other Information and Communication Technology practices from across Member States to further promote the exercise of electoral rights in the EU.

Following up on the Conference on the Future of Europe, the Commission presents a guide to EU citizenship, which will equip EU citizens with the most essential information on their rights, with a focus on young people and people who recently acquired EU citizenship.

The 2023 Eurobarometer on Citizenship and Democracy, published alongside the citizenship package, reveals that 50% of respondents feel well informed about their rights as a citizen of the EU, however, 33% do not feel very well informed and 16% feel not informed at all.

The first report on the functioning of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) presents the progress made since the 2020 revision of the regulation and announces a set of practical measures aiming to further improve the engagement of European citizens in EU democratic processes, such as continuing and streamlining the ECI awareness-raising efforts in cooperation with the European Parliament and Member States, as well as systematically consulting organizers of successful initiatives when developing policy proposals in response to these initiatives.

Next steps

The Commission is committed to ensuring that EU citizens can fully benefit from their rights and will continue to closely monitor the correct implementation of the rules on EU citizenship, including those on free movement. The Commission will present its next report on EU citizenship in 2026.