Every Estonian citizen is also a citizen of the European Union. European citizenship comes in addition to citizenship of the Member State, rather than replacing it – it is not a form of citizenship in its own right, but is an adjunct of the citizenship of a specific Member State. It is not possible to be a citizen of the European Union alone.
The term ‘European citizenship’ was coined as part of the Maastricht Treaty adopted in 1992. Citizens of the union enjoy the rights granted to them as part of the treaty but must also meet the obligations it places on them. Since Estonia is a Member State of the European Union, its citizens have the right to participate in the political and social life of the union.
European Union citizenship grants people the right to free movement, i.e. the right to travel, live, work and study in any Member State and equal treatment on the EU labour market. The only exceptions here are certain professions (the police, armed forces and foreign service). EU citizens can also provide a public service, i.e. act as an independent business operator in any Member State.
In addition to economic and social rights, EU citizens also enjoy clear political rights. In accordance with the Maastricht Treaty, every citizen of the union has the right to stand and vote in elections for the European Parliament and in local elections in Member States they are not citizens of but in which they reside on a permanent basis.
EU citizenship also provides wide-ranging consular and diplomatic protection in third countries. This means that, as a citizen of the European Union, while travelling or living in a country in which Estonia has no diplomatic representation you can approach the diplomatic representation of any other Member State for assistance. For example, if you are travelling in Egypt and fall victim to a theft or accident, you can seek assistance from the French embassy, which will help you get home.
Further information regarding European Union citizenship is available here: