Upholding citizens’ rights
Every person who is a national of one of the EU Member States is automatically a European citizen.
European citizens have the right to:
- move and reside freely within the EU;
- not be discriminated against because of their nationality;
- vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections and in elections to the European Parliament wherever they live in the EU; and
- be assisted by another EU country’s embassy or a consulate when they are outside the EU and their own country does not have an embassy or a consulate. In these cases, the consulate or embassy should treat all EU citizens exactly as they would treat their own citizens.
Right to petition
European citizens also have the right to petition the European Parliament.
These petitions must concern matters that affect citizens directly and that fall within the Union's fields of activity. Petitions may be lodged individually or in association with others.
This right is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Article 44).
In fact EU citizens are not the only ones to benefit from this right: anyone living in the EU can petition the European Parliament.
The European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions receives and considers these petitions.
Right to complain about maladministration
European citizens have the right to ask the European Ombudsman to look into cases of maladministration in the activities of EU institutions, bodies, offices or agencies.
Again, European citizens are not the only ones with this right: anyone living in the EU may ask the Ombudsman to investigate.
European Citizens Initiative
European citizens can also participate in a European citizen's initiative.
Put in place by the Lisbon Treaty, this initiative says that one million citizens – coming from at least one quarter of the EU Member States – may ask the European Commission to make a proposal for EU legislation. The Commission will have to check if the proposal concerns a topic it is authorised to work on.