This chapter engages with the tensions and contradictions of EU citizenship by introducing the status as a double-edged sword for European social security. Reviewing both law and practice in the Member States, the chapter argues that EU citizenship continues to create extra layers of protection against arbitrary discrimination or rigid removal measures but its conditional and exclusionary side simultaneously risks exacerbating the bifurcation between (former) workers and economically inactive citizens as regards social security rights. With ‘lawful residence’ becoming the linchpin for social entitlement, EU citizenship increasingly manifests itself as earned social citizenship. The chapter also offers points of departure to break out of this development and for researching EU citizenship’s capacity to achieve decommodification in transnational situations. First, it is argued that awareness of the highly diverse street-level consequences of EU citizenship in terms of access to social security might further guide (normative) evaluation of the different sides of EU citizenship and spur legal mobilisation within Member States. Secondly, the Court’s recent turn to fundamental rights provides some ingredients to engage with the more theoretical and aspirational scholarship that argues for an EU citizenship beyond the internal market that is grounded in human dignity. Thirdly, discussing the curious case of posted workers, the chapter also hopes to offer inspiration on how EU citizenship might continue to fight back against the internal market’s tendency to commodify human lives and labour.
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