Basic civic principles in the EU


The EU is organized as a representative democracy based on the following basic civic principles:

  • Human dignity is inviolable and is the basis of fundamental rights;
  • EU citizens have the right to freedom of movement to move and live freely within the EU;
  • Respect for private life, freedom of thought, religion, assembly, expression and information are protected;
  • Adult EU citizens have the right to stand as candidate and to vote in elections to the EU Parliament and in their country of residence or origin;
  • All citizens are equal before the law and the EU is based on the rule of law;
  • EU protects the right to be free of discrimination on the basis of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, the right to the protection of your personal data, and the right to get access to justice.

There are three main institutions that are involved in creating and ensuring legislation that is based on these principles:


One way of influencing EU policies and laws is through elections to the European Parliament that take place every 5 years. You can vote or stand as a candidate if you are registered to vote, are 18 or over on the day of election, are EU citizens (that is hold a member state’s citizenship), have been resident at an address in the member state and are not legally excluded from voting.


As an EU citizen living in another member state, you can stand as a candidate under the same conditions that apply to citizens of the country where you live. If citizens are required to have been living in the country for a certain period to be allowed to stand in EU elections, it will be the same for you.

In am European Parliament election, you can only vote and stand as a candidate in one Country.