Team Europe at play for EU citizens during the World Cup
World Cup 2022 / © Shutterstock / Nomi2626
Large numbers of EU citizens travelling to attend international events abroad can pose specific consular challenges, especially if not all EU Member States have consular services in the host country to assist if needed.
That is why the EU and its Member States work together ahead, during and after large international events, for the benefit of EU citizens. Most recently, such collaboration took place for the World Cup in Qatar, where not all visiting fans had an Embassy to turn to if they needed assistance.
“For our newly established EU Delegation in Doha, the World Cup was an opportunity to bring all relevant actors together and to showcase the unity between the EU institutions and the Member States in Qatar, and to the benefit of the European citizens”
Cristian Tudor, EU Ambassador to Qatar
Before the competition, Member States and the EU Delegation to Qatar agreed on a joint EU consular preparedness plan dedicated to the event. The plan covered possible consular risks, recommendations to give to EU citizens, and emergency actions.
It also included a division of labour to ensure the consular protection of EU citizens whose Member States had no consular services in Qatar during the Cup. Indeed, thanks to their EU citizenship, these citizens had the right to be assisted by another Member State.
Member States and the EU Delegation to Qatar then tested the plan with a consular crisis exercise led by the Czech Presidency. Using a fictitious scenario, Member States with and without local presence identified specific challenges they could face during the World Cup and prepared their coordinated response.
EU Member States and the EU Delegation to Qatar also worked together during the month-long World Cup. Some of the EU Member States consular authorities were hosted in the International Consular Services Center (ICSC) set up specifically during the FIFA World Cup by Qatar, which facilitated exchange of information and coordination.
“As a country without an embassy in Qatar, the possibility of being present in Qatar, and hosted in the ICSC during the World Cup was highly valuable for Denmark in order to cooperate and exchange information with Qatari authorities and the other 44 embassies working in the center. We also used our presence to invite the EU Delegation and our Nordic colleagues to visit the center and to share experiences”
Aron Bonanno, Chief adviser, Team Leader at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
The International Consular Services Centre in Doha, Qatar / © Aron Bonanno
The EU consular cooperation for the World Cup had an important regional dimension. As many EU fans chose accommodation in neighbouring countries, the EU Member States embassies and the EU Delegations to Kuwait, to Saudi Arabia, and to the United Arab Emirates were in close contact.
Teams in EU capitals and the EEAS Headquarters supported local consular cooperation in Qatar and the region. They notably did so in the framework of the Council’s Working Party on Consular Affairs, and on an online consular platform managed by the EEAS.
“The EU and its Member States are now drawing the lessons of EU consular cooperation during the World Cup. These inform future collaboration for the consular protection of EU citizens attending large international events”
Anne Marchal, Head of the Consular Affairs Division in the EEAS Crisis Centre
From sport competitions to world exhibitions, they are numerous international events ahead for which EU consular coordination will be at play!