British tourists are told to put EU stickers on their passports


Last updated at 02:02 11 May 2008


Britons are to be asked to put a sticker on their passports proclaiming the rights of European Union 'nationals'

Britons are to be asked to put a sticker proclaiming the rights of European Union "nationals" on the back cover of their passports.

From July 1 next year all new passports issued in the UK and other member countries will quote Article 20 of the EU's founding treaty.

But in the meantime the European Commission has also told the British Government to produce stickers quoting the article and encourage as many people as possible to put them on their passports.

Foreign Office officials last night said the Government was "positive" about the proposals and diplomats were finalising details such as the look of the stickers and how they would be distributed.

Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said Ministers should tell the EU to mind its own business.

"Once again the EU is desperate to muscle in on passports. Our Government should remind them that British passports are still primarily Britain's business," he said.

"The danger is that this is all part of a broader Brussels agenda to extend their control over how people are looked after abroad. Now it's passports – next could be visas and embassies."

From July 2009, the new wording will appear alongside the official message in the name of the Queen under legislation published in Brussels last week and given the nod by British Ministers.

The Article reminds "citizens" they are entitled to assistance from the embassy of any EU member state.

Bureaucrats say the stickers should be distributed to as many people as possible between now and next summer, via passport offices, airports, post offices and travel agencies.

The measures are part of a wider controversial attempt by Brussels to set up EU consulates outside Europe and carry out consular work

on behalf of smaller EU member states.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Ministers were positive about including Article 20 in passports, adding: "The European Commission suggested member states' passports include additional text to remind EU nationals they can seek consular assistance from other member states where they have no consular representation of their own. We welcomed the suggestion as a good way to keep British nationals informed."

The spokesman said there was no cost estimate yet.

The redesign comes two decades after the EU burgundy passport replaced Britain's former blue hardback version.

A European Commission spokeswoman said: "There are a lot of EU nationals out there who aren't aware of their rights and this is a way to provide them with better protection when abroad."


"Every citizen of the Union shall,

in the territory of a third country

in which the member's state

of which he is a national is not represented,

be entitled to protection by

the diplomatic or consular authorities of any Member State, on the same condition as the nationals of that state."


"Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance,

and to afford

the bearer such assistance and

protection as may

be necessary."