Strengthening democratic participation, citizens’ empowerment and fostering inclusion of citizens in the EU
Democracies depend on their citizens’ participation. EU citizens are increasingly aware of the rights conferred to them by EU citizenship, and they are using them. For example, they are increasingly making use of their electoral rights.
of EU citizens know their EU citizenship rights.
increase in participation in the 2019 EU parliament election since 2004. Turnout in the 2019 elections to the European Parliament reached a 25-year high, driven by young and first-time voters and increased participation of women.
However, EU citizens believe that more should be done to inform them on their EU citizenship rights, for example, via awareness-raising campaigns.
of EU citizens think not enough is being done to inform them about their EU citizenship rights according to the Public Consultation on EU citizenship Rights 2020.
In order to strengthen democracy, citizen’s empowerment and integration, the European Commission will take the following actions:
Update EU rules on voting rights in municipal and European elections
The Commission will update the directives on electoral rights of mobile EU citizens in municipal and European elections. This would involve revising, clarifying and strengthening the rules in order to ensure that they support the broad and inclusive participation of mobile EU citizens.
Work closer with the European Cooperation Network on Elections
The Commission will work with the Member States through the European Cooperation Network on Elections to facilitate and improve the exercise of their electoral rights of EU citizens.
Support independent election observation
Election observation is a good way to engage citizens with the electoral process, and to improve public trust in free and fair elections. The Commission will fund projects on independent election observation, including by citizens.
Support deliberative democracy and innovate citizens’ participation in the EU legislative process
Empowered citizens should have the tools, the channels and the skills to make their voices heard in the public arena so they can contribute directly to shaping public policies at all levels. The Commission will take innovative approaches to involving the active participation of citizens in the legislative process to ensure that EU laws are fit-for-purpose and align with EU values.
Support the inclusion of EU citizens in EU society
The Commission will fund specific local actions that aim to support the inclusion of EU citizens in EU society via the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme.
Raise awareness about the importance of cultural participation for society and democracy
The Commission will raise EU-wide awareness about the importance of participation in culture for society and democracy via targeted actions including funding.
Facilitating free movement and simplifying daily life
The freedom of movement, which allows any EU citizen to live, work or study in any Member State, is the most cherished right by EU citizens.
estimate of the number of EU citizens who have exercised this right and moved to another Member State.
of the respondents to the Public Consultation on EU citizenship Rights 2020 have lived in one Member State and worked in another.
of EU citizens thought that the free movement within the EU brings overall benefits to the economy of their country.
estimate of EU citizens living in the UK. Brexit has had a significant impact on these EU citizens.
However, moving abroad can still entail a number of legal and administrative challenges. The European Commission supports Member States and EU citizens in addressing these issues by taking the following actions:
Update the EU guidelines on free movement
The Commission will update the EU guidelines on free movement to take into account the diversity of families (rainbow families) and the application of measures introduced due to public health concerns. The 2009 Guidelines offered information and assistance to both Member States and EU citizens on the issues identified as problematic in the exercise of free movement for EU citizens.
Protect the rights of EU citizens residing in the UK
In line with the Withdrawal Agreement, the Commission will continue to support the protection of the rights of EU citizens who, as a result of exercising their right to free movement while the UK was still a member of the EU, were resident in the UK before the end of the transition period.
Promote the inclusion of cross-border e-government and e-business solutions into newly issued ID cards
The Commission will work with Member States to promote the inclusions of cross-border e-government and e-business solutions into newly issued ID cards.
Simplify tax obligations for EU citizens
The Commission intends to issue recommendations to improve the situation of taxpayers with cross-border activities, including frontier workers.
Support the development of journey planners involving several modes of transport
The Commission will launch an initiative to support further the development of journey planners involving several modes of transport, as well as digital services facilitating the booking and payment of the different mobility offers.
Protecting and promoting EU citizenship
EU citizenship and its associated rights are a symbol of our shared European identity and the knowledge that we all belong to a community based on the principles of democracy, rule of law and the respect for fundamental rights.
Promoting and protecting the values and integrity of EU citizenship is of great importance – this includes ensuring that citizenship is not undermined or that rights are not restricted.
of EU citizens feel informed about what they can do when their rights as EU citizens are not respected.
people have participated in Erasmus+ (and its predecessor programmes) over the last 3 decades. This programme plays an important part in promoting EU citizenship and common values.
The European Commission will take the following actions to promote and protect EU citizenship:
Continue to monitor ‘golden passports schemes’ for EU citizenship and act as necessary
EU values and principles such as solidarity among Member State nationals are weakened if being part of the European project, the enjoyment of its rights, and participation in its democratic life is subject to a mere economic transaction. The Commission will continue to monitor the risks posed by investor schemes for EU citizenship, including in the context of ongoing infringement procedures, and intervene as necessary.
Propose new equality and anti-discrimination measures, including:
The Commission adopted the 2020-2025 EU gender equality strategy, EU anti-racism action plan and strategic frameworks on LGBTIQ and Roma. The Commission will propose new equality and anti-discrimination measures including:
• Proposal to prevent and combat gender-based violence and domestic violence
• Initiative to extend the list of EU crimes to all forms of hate crime and hate speech
• Strategy on the rights of persons with disabilities and Communication on the EU strategy on combating antisemitism.
Foster the sense of European identity among young people
The Commission will support young Europeans’ sense of European identity through the ERASMUS+ programme, the European Solidarity Corps Programme and the Jean Monnet Actions.
Keep monitoring the impact of restrictive measures
The Commission will continue to monitor the impact of restrictive measures, specifically those put in place during crises, on EU citizenship rights, free and fair elections and a fair democratic debate until such measures are lifted. It will continue to facilitate Member States exchange best practices on these issues in the European Cooperation Network on Elections.
Protecting EU citizens in Europe and abroad, including in times of crisis or emergency
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Europeans in different ways and highlighted and exacerbated existing inequalities in our society. The COVID-19 pandemic has also emphasized the value of solidarity among Member States and citizens.
EU citizens travel to or live in countries where they do not have access to consular protection provided by their home country.
of respondents to the Public Consultation on EU citizenship Rights 2020 indicated that EU delegations should take a more active role in assisting unrepresented EU citizens.
thousand European citizens affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions were brought home in an unprecedented coordination effort of the EU and its Member States.
of the respondents to the Public Consultation on EU citizenship Rights 2020 could find the information they needed on the pandemic through the national and EU institutions, or through the media.
The European Commission will take the following actions:
Implement together with the Member States the EU strategy for COVID-19 vaccines
The Commission will implement the EU strategy for COVID-19 vaccines together with the Member States, giving all citizens quick, equitable and affordable access to these vaccines. The Commission has also proposed a new EU health programme - EU4Health, which will support actions to protect citizens in the Union from serious cross-border threats to health.
Increase our support for youth
The Commission will increase its support for young EU citizens, including those from disadvantaged groups, to help them access education, training and finally the labour market through the strengthened Youth Guarantee scheme.
Review EU rules on consular protection
The Commission will review in 2021 EU rules on consular protection in order to improve the EU’s and Member States’ preparedness and capacity to protect and support European citizens in times of crisis. This would enhance cooperation among Member States and strengthen the EU’s supporting role, making best use of its unique network of EU delegations to provide consular assistance to EU citizens in case of need, for example, by allowing them to organise of repatriation flights and issue emergency travel documents.
For more information about EU citizenship, check out the: