At a Closer Look: EU Citizenship Report 2020 - ECAS (2023)

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18 December 2020

At a Closer Look: EU Citizenship Report 2020 - ECAS (1)

ECAS welcomes the EU Citizenship Report 2020, which was adopted on 15 December by the European Commission. Following a difficult 2020, which as a result of COVID-19 brought limitations to freedom of movement on a scale never seen before, we believe that mobile EU citizens need reassurance more than ever that protection and promotion of their rights and freedoms remain at the heart of the European project.

ECAS’ mission is to empower citizens in order to create a more inclusive and stronger European Union by promoting and defending citizens’ rights, and developing and supporting mechanisms to increase the democratic participation and engagement of citizens and citizens organisations with the EU. We are in touch with citizens on a regular basis, providing them with advice on their rights and legal assistance through the Your Europe Advice service[1]. Moreover, we conduct research and implement projects involving mobile EU citizens. We are thus aware of the obstacles that mobile EU citizens and their family members experience when moving to or residing in another Member State, as reported in our recent Policy Paper[2]. We are glad to learn that some of these obstacles have been also acknowledged by the European Commission and that further actions aimed at empowering EU citizens and protecting their rights have been announced and can be expected in the near future.

Improved Legal Certainty When Exercising Free Movement Rights

Out of all EU citizens’ rights, free movement is definitely the most used and the most cherished by EU citizens. In fact, the number of mobile EU citizens is constantly growing, currently amounting to around 13.3 million[3]. However, despite this positive trend, mobile EU citizens and their non-EU family members continue facing legal and administrative challenges when entering other Member States, applying for residence documents, accessing healthcare or job market, trying to be politically active, etc. The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought about additional challenges and unprecedented complications for EU citizens’ rights. To address the outbreak of the pandemic, many Member States introduced partial or almost complete closures of their external and internal borders, restricting the movement of citizens entering and leaving the country. As a result, many mobile EU citizens were separated from their loved ones and found themselves unable to return home.

The challenges experienced by mobile EU citizens are often a result of incorrect implementation of the Directive 2004/38/EC or difficulties experienced by national authorities when putting free movement rules in practice. Similarly, certain notions of the Directive are not clearly defined, leaving large room for interpretation to Member States. ECAS welcomes the Commission’s commitment to “review the 2009 guidelines[4] on free movement in order to improve legal certainty for EU citizens exercising their free movement rights, and to ensure a more effective and uniform application of the free movement legislation across the EU” (Action no. 7). At the same time, ECAS calls on the European Commission not to limit the revision to the judgements of the European Court of Justice, but to also provide clarity on certain “grey areas”, as highlighted in the ECAS’ call “Towards a Citizen-Centric European Union[5] and elaborated upon in detail in our Policy Paper[6].

Public authorities and civil servants are often the first points of contact for mobile EU citizens. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the information they provide regarding EU rights (residence, access to healthcare, social benefits, political participation, etc.) is accurate and up-to-date. Unfortunately, as our research has shown, this is not always the case. Therefore, ECAS believes and strongly advocates for the provision of continuous training to public administrations on EU citizenship rights. We hope that the announced funding will also be able to serve this purpose, for instance through the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme.

Effective Exercise of Voting Rights

EU citizenship gives every EU citizen the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the EP and municipal elections in their Member State of residence, under the same conditions as nationals of that State. While the number of EU citizens of voting age has been steadily increasing in the EU, amounting to 3% of the total EU voting population, citizens are either not aware of their electoral rights or experience challenges when they want to participate in elections. In fact, only a low number of citizens exercise their electoral rights. What are the reasons behind this trend? The results of the ECAS’ crowdsourcing exercise[7] indicate that citizens: experience difficulties in the electoral registration process; have insufficient information on how to vote; and lack knowledge of the local political system. These problems have been also reported in the recent Eurobarometer[8] and confirmed in the EU Citizenship Report 2020.

As part of its call for a Citizen-Centric European Union[9], ECAS recommended EU and national decision-makers to develop and implement a monitoring system in order to ensure that there are no EU mobile citizens precluded from exercising their political rights due to incompatible national and local rules or administrative hurdles. Therefore, in line with that, we welcome the commitment of the European Commission to “explore, in close cooperation with the Parliament, the possibility of creating a dedicated shared resource to support EU citizens in exercising their electoral rights, as well as providing additional avenues for them to report hurdles and incidents affecting their political participation”.

Our research indicates that mobile EU citizens are often unaware of deadlines, rules and the correct steps they should take in order to register on the electoral roll. Therefore, access to targeted, reliable and relevant information is of key importance for improving inclusive participation of mobile EU citizens. An update of the directives on voting rights of mobile EU citizens in municipal and European elections is one of the Actions announced by the Commission (Action no. 1) with an aim to strengthen mobile citizens’ ability to exercise their electoral rights. We are glad to read that “the provision of information on the deadlines, the implications and durability of voter registrations, the exchange of information on the registration of mobile EU citizen voters and candidates in European elections” are among the areas that will be covered by the update.

Empowering Citizens’ Participation in the Democratic Process

An important societal transformation is taking place throughout Europe and across the world. A new deliberative-collaborative e-democracy model is emerging which can contribute to a more open and inclusive form of policy-making by involving citizens through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

In the last five years, ECAS has been consistently working on exploring the potential of ICT in reducing the gap between political elites and citizens in order to create a more engaged citizenship through civic tech.

As part of its call for a Citizen-Centric European Union, ECAS has been advocating to complement representative democracy with collaborative elements of participatory democracy in order to reduce the gap between political elites and citizens and to transform their relationship into more of a partnership, especially for the co-creation of policy. Moreover, we believe that the Commission should divide the existing online consultations on EU policy-making into two parallel channels: one which is designed to better gain the views of organised interests and one which is tailored to collect the insights of citizens through crowdsourcing mechanisms.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a great opportunity to pilot different digital democracy methods, to assess their effectiveness, to improve them based on the lessons learnt and to make them an integral part of the European democracy toolbox.

We therefore welcome the Commission’s commitment to “support the active participation of citizens in the democratic process, and to take innovative approaches to involving them in the legislative process to ensure that EU laws are fit-for-purpose and align with EU values” (Action no. 4) and we are looking forward to its practical implementation.


ECAS is looking forward to the Actions announced in the EU Citizenship Report 2020. We believe they will contribute to improving the ability of EU citizens to exercise their freedom of movement and political rights and engage with the European decision-making process in a meaningful and collaborative manner. Alongside the European Commission, ECAS will continue its work towards an inclusive, transparent, citizen-centric and democratic European Union in which citizens’ rights are at the heart of decision-making at all levels and in which citizens are informed, consulted and active participants. We remain available and open to work in partnership with the European Commission, other EU institutions and other relevant stakeholders on the implementation of the actions set out in this Report.

[1] Your Europe Advice is an EU advice service for the public, provided by the legal experts from the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) operating under contract with the European Commission. It consists of a team of 60 independent lawyers who cover all EU official languages and are familiar with EU law and national laws in all EU countries. YEA provides free and personalised advice within a week, clarifies the European law that applies to specific cases and explains to citizens how they can exercise their EU rights.


[3] European Commission, EU Citizenship Report 2020

[4] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on guidance for better transposition and application of Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, COM/2009/0313 final







How can an American become EU citizen? ›

Anyone is eligible for a European passport, provided that they pursue one of the following three options:
  1. Get European citizenship through descent or ancestry.
  2. Get EU citizenship through naturalization.
  3. Apply for a European passport through a citizenship-by-investment program.
Feb 10, 2023

Am I eligible for EU citizenship? ›

If either of your parents was born in an EU country, or if your grandparents were both born in the same country (and were not stateless at the time), you may be eligible to become an EU citizen. These requirements vary widely from country to country, so check out the various requirements for each country.

What is Article 20 EU citizenship? ›

Article 20(ex Article 17 TEC)

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.

What are the perks of being an EU citizen? ›

European passports are among the most powerful in the world. The perks of holding EU citizenship are plentiful, including the unrestricted right to live, retire, work, study, and run a business in Europe. The process of obtaining an EU passport varies depending on the country.

Can I live in Europe with US citizenship? ›

Yes, Americans can move to Europe. There are a variety of options available, with Golden Visas, Digital Nomad Visas, and other residency schemes available.

Which is the fastest citizenship in Europe? ›

MALTA: easiest & fastest citizenship by investment

Usually, the process takes around 18 months. Malta citizenship by investment is the fastest in Europe. It's among the easiest countries to get a passport – but only if you can afford it.

Can you lose EU citizenship? ›

Citizenship of a country can be lost in various ways. Loss of citizenship follows two general modes: voluntary loss–following an individual requestto renouncecitizenship;and involuntary loss–when citizenship elapses ex lege or is withdrawn by the state. All EU countries allow for the voluntary loss of citizenship.

Does EU allow dual citizenship? ›

EU countries that allow dual nationality: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Sweden.

Which EU country is best for citizenship? ›

Which Country in Europe is Easiest to Get Citizenship? The most accessible country to get citizenship in the EU is Portugal. The country offers one of the most affordable investment options for citizenship, and after five years, you gain an EU passport.

What is the difference between Article 20 and Article 21? ›

ARTICLE 20. Every person who, contrary to law, wilfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same. ARTICLE 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.

Can an EU citizen be deported? ›

Can an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen be deported? If you are not resident in the State on one of the grounds described above, you could be issued with a removal order. However, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens are very unlikely to get a removal order based on not having a legal right to reside.

Is Article 20 available to foreigners? ›

The Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 20, 21, 21A, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 are available to all persons whether citizens or foreigners.

What are 3 benefits of living in the EU? ›

Key European Union achievements and tangible benefits
  • a continent at peace.
  • freedom for its citizens to live, study or work anywhere in the EU.
  • the world's biggest single market.
  • aid and development assistance for millions of people worldwide.

What countries can I live in with an EU passport? ›

Benefits of EU Citizenship

A citizen of an EU nation can live, work, and study in another EU nation, Switzerland, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark for an indefinite period of time with very minimal paperwork.

What countries can EU citizens visit without visa? ›

Visa free access
CountryVisa not requiredNotes
GuyanaAustria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden.3 months.
ParaguayAll states.90 days.
PeruAll states.90 days(183 for Ireland).
112 more rows

How long can a U.S. citizen stay in the EU without a visa? ›

With a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period. Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area. To stay longer than 90 days, you must have a visa.

Is it hard for a U.S. citizen to move to Europe? ›

Most European countries have difficult paths to residency but don't worry, there are still plenty of countries with long-term living options. There are 16 European countries that are easiest for U.S. citizens to move to, including popular destinations like Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany and Estonia.

How long can a U.S. citizen stay out of the country? ›

Absences of more than 365 consecutive days

You must apply for a re-entry permit (Form I-131) before you leave the United States, or your permanent residence status will be considered abandoned. A re-entry permit enables you to be abroad for up to two years. Apply for a re-entry permit.

Which EU state is the easiest to get citizenship? ›

The easiest English-speaking country to get citizenship in Europe is Malta, which grants successful applicants Maltese citizenship by naturalization in 12 to 36 months, depending on their investment sum.

Which European country accepts most immigrants? ›

Immigrants in the Nordic countries in 2000–2020
1 more row

Which is the cheapest and fastest EU citizenship? ›

Otherwise, Portugal is the most affordable and fastest route to EU citizenship, with a range of flexible residency options, from the Portugal Golden Visa to the D7 passive income or retirement visa.

How valuable is EU citizenship? ›

EU citizens can enter 153 countries without a visa, making an EU passport one of the most desirable travel documents around. Join thousands of people from US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, South Africa and many other countries apply for EU citizenship through descent every year!

How long can a EU citizen stay in a EU country? ›

EU citizens can live in another EU country for up to three months without any requirements other than holding a valid identity card or passport.

Can I have 3 citizenships in USA? ›

Yes, the U.S. does allow for triple citizenship and does not require naturalized U.S. citizens to give up citizenship in their home country or other countries.

Can you have 3 citizenships in Europe? ›

Can you have 3 citizenships? Yes, if the legislation of your home country and other states whose citizenship you would like to obtain allows multiple citizenships. For example, Austria obliges foreigners to give up their previous passports.

Which European countries don't allow dual nationality? ›

Austria, Germany and Spain generally do not allow dual citizenship, except in some special circumstances. This means that foreign nationals who obtain the citizenship of one of these countries have to give up their nationality of origin.

Which European country is hardest to get citizenship? ›

It's mainly the extensive timeline that makes Liechtenstein one of the hardest countries to get citizenship. You'll have to live in Liechtenstein for at least 30 YEARS before you become eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalization.

Which EU countries allow dual citizenship with us? ›

EU countries that allow dual citizenship: Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Sweden. Key Non-EU countries that allow dual citizenship: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Turkey.

What are the best European countries to live in as an American? ›

If you can handle the cold, Germany and the Netherlands are two of the most popular countries for expats, both offering international communities and unique residency options. Switzerland: Although many European countries offer a better quality of life than the U.S., Switzerland takes the cake.

Why is Article 21 so important? ›

The right to life is not just about the right to survive. It also entails being able to live a complete life of dignity and meaning. The chief goal of Article 21 is that when the right to life or liberty of a person is taken away by the State, it should only be according to the prescribed procedure of law.

Can Article 21 be taken away? ›

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution states that every person has got the right to life and personal liberty and it cannot be taken away except in accordance with the procedure established by the law.

Can Article 20 and 21 be suspended? ›

After the 44th Amendment Act, it was agreed by the Court that in any case no person can be stripped of his right to life and personal liberty. Therefore Articles 20 and 21 cannot be suspended even in case of an emergency.

How do I get my EU citizenship back? ›

In order to get an EU passport after Brexit you can apply to one of Europe's citizenship or residency by investment programs. In exchange for a qualifying investment, you and your family can get EU citizenship after Brexit.

Can EU citizens migrate freely? ›

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens have the right to move freely within the territory of the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland. When they are lawfully in one of those countries, they should not be treated differently from citizens of that country in terms of: Access to employment. Working conditions.

Are EU citizens subject to immigration control? ›

Leave to enter or remain granted on/after 1 January 2021

They will be 'subject to immigration control' and will be excluded from claiming public funds (benefits and housing assistance).

Why Article 19 is not given to foreigners? ›

However, the court made a very important distinction between the fundamental rights available to the Indian citizens and to the foreigners. The Supreme Court held that Article 19 (1) (d) and (e) are unavailable to foreigner nationals because these rights are conferred only on the citizens.

What is Article 21 for foreigners? ›

“Article 21 guarantees the protection of personal liberty to citizen and foreigner alike. No person can be deprived of his personal liberty 'except according to procedure established by law',” the five-judge Bench held in 1955.

Which rights are not available to foreigners? ›

FR available only to citizens and not to foreigners

Equality before the law and equal protection of laws (Article 14). 1. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, Sex, castes or place of birth (Article 15).

What is a disadvantage of the EU? ›

Another disadvantage is concerned with the costs. Every member state is required to provide significant amounts of money to support the European Union's functioning. For example, the United Kingdom had to pay $19.8 billion gross to the Union for the membership.

Is health Care Free in EU? ›

Not all state healthcare is free within the EU and Switzerland and so you may have to pay for services that you would get for free on the NHS. Information: Your EHIC or GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance. It may not cover all health costs and never covers repatriation costs.

What are the benefits of being a EU citizen? ›

As an EU national, you have the right to live and move within the EU without being discriminated against on the grounds of nationality. You can also benefit from greater consumer protection than in your home country and, provided you meet certain requirements, can access healthcare anywhere in the EU.

Do EU countries check passports? ›

Part of the Schengen agreement also has provisions for allowing individual member states to temporarily reinstate border controls in certain circumstances. In addition, expect random passport checks when crossing borders at any time, as well as when boarding a plane at the airport.

Which country passport is most powerful? ›

Japan topped the index as the country with the most powerful in the world for the fifth consecutive year. As of 2023, Japanese passport holders can visit 193 of 227 destinations visa-free, which is 85% of the world, according to data from the International Air Transport Association compiled by Henley & Partners.

Can US citizens travel to Europe without visa? ›

Even once ETIAS comes out in November 2023, it will not mean that Americans will need a visa for Europe. The ETIAS travel authorisation is a visa waiver that must be obtained by international travellers before entering the Schengen area.

How much bank balance is required for Schengen Visa? ›

You need at least EUR 50 (equivalent to INR 4,341.24)* per day in your bank account to obtain a Greek Schengen visa from India. If you plan to stay in the country for up to five days, the required amount is raised to EUR 300 (equivalent to INR 26,047.44)* per day.

What is the easiest way to get EU citizenship? ›

The preferred and easiest way to apply for European citizenship is through your ancestry or descent. If you have parents, grandparents, and in some cases, even great grandparents from any of the EU countries like Poland, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, and many others, you can apply for citizenship.

How can I legally immigrate to the EU? ›

Options for Moving to Europe: To legally reside in a European country long term, you need a foreign residence and/or work permit. The first step is usually applying for a visa from your home country. Once approved, that visa allows you to enter the country you're moving to with your U.S. passport.

Which EU countries allow dual citizenship with US? ›

EU countries that allow dual citizenship: Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Sweden. Key Non-EU countries that allow dual citizenship: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Turkey.

How Long Can a U.S. citizen be in the EU? ›

With a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period. Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area. To stay longer than 90 days, you must have a visa.

Which citizenship is best in Europe? ›


What make Portugal the easiest country in Europe to gain citizenship is that there are no physical presence requirements. Meaning you only need to hold your resident permit in order to qualify for naturalization. You don't need to spend most of the year in the country like most other countries.

Are Americans moving to Europe? ›

“More Americans are relocating to Europe, driven across the Atlantic by the rising cost of living, inflated house prices, a surging dollar and political rancor at home.”

Which European country has easy immigration? ›

Sweden is one of the easiest and non-restricted countries for citizenship in the European continent. Like Portugal, Sweden requires at least a five-year resident permit without any language obligations to get citizenship. The language requirement is not currently necessary but may later add on.

Will I lose my U.S. citizenship if I become a citizen of another country? ›

U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship.

What is the easiest country for an American to get dual citizenship? ›

Sometimes a person can get second citizenship automatically.

You might need to fulfil certain requirements depending on the way of obtaining the citizenship you choose. Different countries have different rules, but the easiest countries to get dual citizenship are states like Turkey, Vanuatu, Grenada, and Dominica.

What happens if I stay more than 6 months outside US? ›

If you intend to stay outside the United States for 1 year or more, you must apply for a re-entry permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to leaving the United States.

What countries do not accept U.S. passport? ›

What countries do not accept U.S. passport? The only destination where it is forbidden for US citizens to travel to is North Korea, due to its closed border status for both US citizens and citizens of other countries.

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