European Parliament backs the initiative to improve consular protection of EU citizens abroad

The European Parliament adopted in plenary session a position which calls on the diplomatic services of member states and the European Union delegations dependent of the European External Action Service, to ensure an effective protection of any EU citizen abroad. Recent emergencies have highlighted the need to strengthen this consular protection.

In this position, MEPs call for any citizen who is in trouble in a foreign country to be able to attend a diplomatic representation of a member state which is not his own a national and to obtain the necessary assistance. However, MEPs also emphasize that this obligation does not force member states to provide a type of assistance they do not provide to their own nationals.

The position on the legislative proposal to improve consular protection abroad adopted in plenary session reinforces one of the basic rights of citizens put forward by the European Commission in its Communication on consular protection in third countries of March 2011. This Communication highlighted the fact that the need for consular assistance is not limited to cases of emergency or disaster. It also covers quite common situations such as the loss or theft of a passport.

The Parliament has also called on the European Union delegations which are run by the European External Action Service to be responsible for organizing and coordinating cooperation between member states, including sharing out tasks to ensure that unrepresented citizens are fully assisted in case of crisis.