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Key EU terms: R

23 February 2010
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 24 February 2010

A list of key EU legal terminology: R


Receiving asylum-seekers

When refugees look for asylum in a Member State, the authorities must ensure that they have dignified standard of living (food, accommodation, etc).


A repeat offender, someone who relapses into crime.


A court decision in one Member State needs to be recognised in another for it to be enforced. In civil and commercial matters, this should be automatic.


A person who fulfils the requirements of Article 1(A) of the Geneva Convention, Article 1(A) defines a refugee as any person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

Refugee status

This is defined in the EU legislative instruments as the status granted by a Member State to a person who is a refugee and admitted as such to the territory of that Member State. In terms of the Geneva Convention refugee status is defined as the status possessed by a person who fulfils the requirements of the refugee definition as laid down in the convention.


The European information network on drugs and drug addiction (Reitox) consists of national focal points (NFPs) set up in each Member States and in Norway, with one also at the European Commission. They provide data on the national situations to the EMCDDA.


The formal declaration made by a subject of an extradition request that he/she surrenders to the requesting State's authorities.


The process of returning a non-EU national to his or her country of origin. The EU believes that this should happen voluntarily and under humane conditions.


All EU citizens have the right to reside in another Member State, provided they can show that they either intend to work, or can support themselves and have sickness insurance.

Residence card

Permit granting an immigrant the right to live in their country of destination for a certain amount of time.

Residence documents

Official permit, which allows the holder to live in a place for a certain amount of time. The Commission has proposed a uniform format for all EU residence permits.


All people legally residing in the EU, whether Member State or third-country nationals. The Charter of Fundamental Rights, proclaimed in December 2000, notably applies to EU and third-country nationals.

Return policy

The approach taken when repatriating people to their country of origin after they are refused permission to reside in a Member State.


The term used when the subject of an extradition request consents to the jurisdiction of the requesting State.

Right of asylum

Anyone who meets the criteria laid down in the 1951 Geneva Convention on refugees has the right of asylum in the first safe country they reach.

Right of initiative

The right to propose legislation. In justice and home affairs, this right is currently shared between the Member States and the European Commission.

Right to travel

All EU residents enjoy the right to travel freely around the EU without a visa. This is part of the principle of free movement, upon which the EU is based.

Right to vote

Since 1993, all EU citizens have the automatic right to vote in local and European (although not in national) elections in whatever Member State they reside in.

Right to work

Anyone legally residing in a Member State has the right to take up employment there, either on a salaried or self-employed basis.


The EU upholds and protects certain fundamental rights for its citizens, such as the right to vote, to travel and to work.

Rights of access

The EU is working to improve the access its citizens have to justice in all Member States, and to overcome problems due to divergent legal systems.

Robert Schuman

An EU programme, running from 1998-2000, which aims to make judges, prosecutors, lawyers aware of EU law and how to implement it.

Rule of law

One of the EU's goals on the international scene is strengthen the rule of law in neighbouring countries, notably in the western Balkan region.

Source: European Commission - Justice and Home Affairs

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