New EU consular protection rules come into force

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From 1 May, EU citizens living or travelling outside the EU will get better benefit from consular protection in case of need, where their country of origin is not represented in the non-EU country they visit.

The updated rules allow EU citizens who get into distress in a non-EU country to receive assistance from any EU embassy or consulate.

The rules entering into force tomorrow also specify how EU Member States should cooperate on common contingency plans so that unrepresented EU citizens get protection in the event of a crisis or a natural disaster.

“Almost 7 million EU citizens travel or live outside the EU in countries where their own Member State does not have an embassy or consulate,” said Vera Jourova, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality on Monday, “As of tomorrow we ensure that all EU citizens are treated equally when they need urgent assistance outside of our Union. The new rules reinforce citizens’ rights and are a strong sign of European solidarity.”

Besides assistance in times of crisis, EU citizens can also benefit from requesting consular protection in case of serious illness, when being victim of a crime, when arrested or in cases of passport loss or theft when abroad.

Requests for emergency travel documents represent more than 60 percent of all cases of consular assistance to unrepresented citizens.

The Commission says it will work closely with those European Union member countries who have not finalised transposition yet to make sure the important new rules are implemented swiftly.