EU Citizens – Diplomatic protection outside the EU

Apr 10, 2020

Under the current emergency situation deriving from the Covid 19 pandemic, there may be situation of EU citizens stuck outside the EU, for flight cancellations or travel bans. What happen if they need consular assistance and their State does not have a diplomatic representation in the country where they are stuck?

Every citizen of the European Union located in the territory of a third country is entitled to consular and diplomatic protection (Art. 20 of EC Treaty). Decision of EU Council of 19 December 1995 r (n. 553/95) set forth the conditions for entitlement to diplomatic and consular protection as follows:

  • the absence in the third country in which the citizen requesting protection is located of an accessible permanent representation (embassy, general consulate or consulate) of the citizen’s own Member State;
  • the absence of an accessible Honorary Consul competent for such matters of his or her own Member State or another State representing it on a permanent basis;
  • production by the citizen requesting protection of proof of his or her nationality (passport, identity card or other document) for the diplomatic or consular representation approached.

The diplomatic or consular representation giving protection must treat the person seeking help as if he or she were a national of the Member State which it represents.

Assistance in the event of difficulties: mandatory protection

The protection must cover:

  • assistance in the event of death;
  • assistance in the event of serious accident or serious illness;
  • assistance in the event of arrest or detention;
  • assistance to victims of violent crime;
  • the relief and repatriation of distressed citizens of the Union.

This list is not exhaustive as EU citizens may find themselves in difficulties in any number of situations in countries that are not members of the EU. In so far as it is within their powers, Member States’ diplomatic representations or consular agents may therefore assist citizens in other cases if they are requested to do so.

Authorised protection: financial assistance

Other than in cases of extreme urgency, no financial advance or assistance may be given or expenditure incurred on behalf of a citizen of the Union without the permission of the competent authorities of the Member State of which that citizen is a national, such permission being given either by the Foreign Ministry or by the nearest diplomatic mission.

Unless the authorities of the Member State of the applicant’s nationality expressly waive this requirement, the applicant undertakes to repay the full value of any financial advance or help and expenditure incurred plus, where applicable, a consular fee notified by the competent authorities. This requirement may be waived by the authorities of the applicant’s Member State.

The undertaking to repay takes the form of a document requiring the distressed national to repay to the Government of the Member State of which he is a national any costs incurred on his behalf or money paid to him. The Government of the Member State of which the applicant is a national must reimburse all costs, on request, to the Government of the assisting Member State.

Emergency travel documents

Emergency travel documents are the type of assistance most frequently provided to citizens outside the EU in places where their home country has no embassy or consulate. These documents are issued to citizens whose passports or travel documents have been lost, stolen or destroyed. They are essential to help these citizens return home safely. On 18 June 2019, the Council adopted a directive on an EU emergency travel document. The directive updates the rules, format and security features of the EU emergency travel document. It simplifies the formalities for unrepresented EU citizens in third countries.

Marco Mazzeschi

Attorney at law. One of the leading corporate immigration lawyers in Italy. Admitted to the Milan Bar Association (1988) and to the Taipei Bar Association (2016), a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and an accredited partner of Invest in Tuscany.

  • Contact us

    To request an initial assessment or to arrange a consultation call with one of our consultants, please provide us with your contact details and we will get back to you within the next 24 (working) hours.

    Get in touch →
  • MAZZESCHI S.r.l. - C.F e P.IVA 01200160529 - Cap.Soc. 10.000 € I.V. - Reg. Imp. Siena 01200160529 - REA SI-128403 - Privacy Notice - Cookies Policy
    Copyright © 2019 by Mazzeschi - Web Designer Alessio Piazzini Creazione siti web Firenze
  • Mazzeschi S.r.l. | Operazione/Progetto finanziato nel quadro del POR FESR Toscana 2014-2020
    Il progetto ITACA (ITaly Attract ChinA) è un investimento nei paesi/mercati a lingua cinese, in particolare Taiwan con l’obiettivo di accrescere le quote di mercato dell'azienda. Tramite ITACA la Mazzeschi Srl ha aperto un ufficio a Taiwan con assunzione di personale di lingua cinese, creato un sito internet in lingua cinese e partecipato a fiere e varie attività di promozione a Taiwan.

    Mazzeschi S.r.l. | Project co-financed under Tuscany POR FESR 2014-2020
    The ITACA project (ITaly Attract ChinA) is a fund to invest in Chinese-speaking countries/markets, in particular Taiwan with the aim of increasing the company's market shares. With the help of ITACA project, Mazzeschi Srl has opened an office in Taiwan and has hired a Chinese-speaking staff, created a Chinese website and participated in fairs and various promotional activities in Taiwan.