EU citizenship is a status bestowed upon all citizens of member states of the European Union (EU). It was formally established with the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, coinciding with the EU’s inception. EU citizenship complements national citizenship rather than replacing it. It grants EU citizens a range of rights, freedoms, and legal protections under EU law.
Rights and Benefits of EU Citizenship
EU citizenship confers a set of fundamental rights and privileges, including:
- Freedom of Movement and Residence: EU citizens have the right to freely move and reside within any EU member state without discrimination based on nationality. They can live, work, study, or establish businesses in any EU country.
- Electoral Rights: EU citizens have the right to vote and stand as candidates in European Parliament elections and municipal elections in their country of residence.
- Diplomatic and Consular Protection: EU citizens can seek assistance from the embassy or consulate of any EU member state if they find themselves in a non-EU country where their own country has no representation.
- Petition and Complaint Rights: EU citizens can petition the European Parliament and file complaints with the European Ombudsman regarding concerns related to EU law or administration.
- European Citizens’ Initiative: EU citizens can participate in the European Citizens’ Initiative, a mechanism allowing them to propose legislation to the European Commission.
- Non-Discrimination: EU citizens are protected from discrimination based on nationality within the EU.
- Access to Justice: EU citizens have equal access to justice in all EU member states.
Who Qualifies for EU Citizenship?
EU citizenship is automatically granted to any person who holds the nationality of an EU member state. This includes both native-born citizens and naturalized citizens who have acquired citizenship through a process of application and approval.
As of 2023, there are 27 EU member states. Citizens of these countries are automatically considered EU citizens and enjoy the rights and benefits associated with EU citizenship.
The EU is continuously expanding, and new member states may join in the future. As the EU grows, so does the number of individuals who enjoy the benefits of EU citizenship.