EU citizenship is supplementary addition to national citizenship of the Union. EU citizenship was first introduced by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, and was extended by the Treaty of Amsterdam. Without a citizenship of the member state, EU citizenship would cease to exist. This also means European Union citizenship do not exist alone.

Member State, having due regard to Union law, to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality. EU citizenship is lost if member state nationality is lost,

Article 20 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that:

“Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship.”

EU Citizenship Rights

EU citizenship comes rights, freedoms and legal protections to all of its citizens. These include

  • Right of free movement: Right to free movement and residence: a right of free movement and residence throughout the Union and the right to work in any position (including national civil services with the exception of those posts in the public sector that involve the exercise of powers conferred by public law and the safeguard of general interests of the State or local authorities (Article 21) for which however there is no one single definition);
  • Freedom from discrimination on nationality: a right not to be discriminated against on grounds of nationality within the scope of application of the Treaty (Article 18);
  • Protection Rights abroad: Right to consular protection abroad
  • Voting in European elections: a right to vote and stand in elections to the European Parliament, in any EU member state (Article 22)
  • Voting in municipal elections: a right to vote and stand in local elections in an EU state other than their own, under the same conditions as the nationals of that state (Article 22)
  • Accessing European government documents: a right to access to European Parliament, Council, and Commission documents (Article 15).
  • Petitioning Parliament and the Ombudsman: the right to petition the European Parliament and the right to apply to the European Ombudsman in order to bring to his attention any cases of poor administration by the EU institutions and bodies, with the exception of the legal bodies (Article 24)[28]
  • Language rights: the right to apply to the EU institutions in one of the official languages and to receive a reply in that same language (Article 24).

There is also important distinction that nationals of some countries are not entitled to have EU citizen status.

EU citizens

Nationals of these countries are considered EU citizens: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Non-EU citizens

  • Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – These countries are not members of the EU, their nationals can work in the EU on the same footing as EU nationals, since they belong to the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Switzerland: Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member.  Swiss nationals are free to live and work in the EU, under the EU-Switzerland agreement on the free movement of persons,
  • Andorra – Andorra citizens can live and work in three EU countries: France, Spain, and Portugal
  • San Marino – San Marino citizens can only live and work in  Italy
  • Monaco – Monaco citizens can  only live and work in France

Overseas Territories

A member state may withhold EU citizenship from certain groups of citizens, most commonly in overseas territories of member states outside the EU.