European Union citizens living or travelling outside the bloc will now be able to better benefit from consular protection in case of need, when their EU member state of origin is not represented in the non-EU country they are staying in.

As of May 1, EU citizens in distress in a non-EU country will be able to get assistance from any EU embassy or consulate in the event of a crisis or natural disaster.

“Almost 7m EU citizens travel or live outside the EU in countries where their own Member State does not have an embassy or consulate. As of tomorrow we ensure that all EU citizens are treated equally when they need urgent assistance outside of our Union,” said Commissioner Vĕra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.

“The new rules reinforce citizens’ rights and are a strong sign of European solidarity,” she added.

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% of all cases of consular assistance to unrepresented citizens.”

According to Jourová, the Commission will work closely with the member states that have not finalised transposition to make sure the important new rules are implemented swiftly.