European Citizenship

Dr. Antoine Saliba Haig | 28 Apr 2017

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The Treaties of the European Union (EU) establish that any individual holding the citizenship of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen. European citizenship is however additional to and does not replace national citizenship. It is a well established principle that the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality of that country remains within the national remit of each member state. By acquiring citizenship of an EU member state, thus one automatically acquires all the benefits enjoyed by European Union citizens. Citizenship of an EU country can be obtained either by birth, by descent, by marriage or else by investment. The two countries in the EU in which one can obtain citizenship via investment are Malta and Cyprus

The concept of EU citizenship is quite new however some common symbols of this European identity already exists. Some common symbols include the Euro currency which is used by almost all EU countries, the EU passport with burgundy-coloured covers, EU driving licence, an EU flag, and the EU motto 'United in Diversity'. In addition, the EU also celebrates Europe Day on the 9th of May. 

Benefits of EU Citizenship

Freedom of movement 

All EU citizens enjoy the right to live, travel and work freely in any other EU member state. This is one of the pillars of European Citizenship where the aim is to have one single continent without borders whereby citizens can establish themselves in another country without restrictions. Moreover, when travelling to another country one can obtain a health card from local authorities to help medical costs in case of emergencies in the other EU country. 

EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights became legally binding with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009. This Charter is binding on the EU institutions and national governments and brings together the fundamental rights protected in the EU. This Charter lists the rights under six headings :: Dignity, Freedom, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens' rights and Justice. The aim of this charter is to collect and include all the rights which the EU upholds into one single document. 

Voting rights

Nationals of any of the EU member states have the right to stand or vote in the European Parliament elections. In addition, regardless of one's nationality,one also have the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in local elections in thecountry of residence. 

Petition to the EU Ombudsman

The EU created a post of an Ombudsman which is appointed by the European Parliament (EP) who remains in office for the whole duration of the EP. The role of the Ombudsman is to investigate complaints against the EU institutions and bodies. A petition to the EU ombudsman may be brought by an citizen or organisation in the EU, and once a petitionis lodged, the Ombudsman tries to reach an amicable settlement between the person presenting the petition and the EU body or institution. 

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Key Contacts

Dr Antoine Saliba Haig

Senior Lawyer

+356 22056446