Brussels has set out to remind Europeans in difficulty of their rights. During emergencies, such as in Japan or Libya recently, EU citizens abroad have the right to ask for help from any EU consulate or embassy where their country is not directly represented.
But many Europeans do not know they have this right, so the European Commission is taking steps to boost citizens’ awareness.
Europeans take more than 90 million trips outside the EU each year and around 30 million live in non-EU countries. Yet it is only in the US, China and Russia that every one of the 27 member states has a diplomatic mission.
Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice and Citizenship, explained: “We have to clarify some questions: let’s take Luxembourg citizens who are lost in Kazakhstan and the British embassy is going to save them, that comes at a cost to the British tax payer, so it is normal that they are paid back by the Luxembourg authorities. How this transfer is going to take place, that has to be regulated by a European law and will be.”
A website on consular protection is being launched, providing addresses of diplomatic missions in non-EU countries and access to all EU member states’ travel advisory services.