EU Citizenship and Social Rights
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EU Citizenship and Social Rights

Entitlements and Impediments to Accessing Welfare

Edited by Frans Pennings and Martin Seeleib-Kaiser

In the 1990s, the Maastricht Treaty introduced the right to free movement for EU citizens. In practice, however, there are substantial barriers to making use of this right, particularly to integration and to accessing the social and welfare rights available. This is particularly true when it comes to accessing social rights, such as social assistance, housing benefit, study grants and health care. This book provides a detailed description and thorough analysis of these barriers, in both law and practice.
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Chapter 3: EU social citizenship: between individual rights and national concerns

Catherine Jacqueson


This chapter focuses on the strength of EU social rights of inactive Union citizens over time. It is argued that these rights have been mainly the creation of the European Court of Justice, which has been the motor in promoting equal treatment of Union citizens. While the EU Court initially paved the way for more equality among migrant nationals, the EU legislator introduced several restrictions to this in the Citizenship Directive, whereupon the Court started to embark on a restrictive path towards social rights for non-economically active persons. Access to social rights is core for the ability of all citizens irrespective of class to more fully enjoy political and civil rights. The development of EU citizenship over the past twenty years has made great progress in granting social rights not only to workers, but also to EU citizens, who fulfil certain minimum residency requirements. These developments are, however, not fully underpinned by the necessary political legitimacy in all Member States. Although across Member States one can detect a nascent solidarity that includes EU migrant citizens, in a number of countries the support for access to social rights by EU migrant citizens is fragile at best, or almost non-existent, as in the United Kingdom. The specific welfare regime of a country does not seem to be of great importance for EU migrant citizens accessing social rights. In practice, access largely depends on meeting residency and/or registration requirements and on the propensity of individual Member States to implement rules limiting access of these rights for EU migrant citizens. Systematic evidence regarding the extent to which EU migrant citizens have been able to access their social rights in EU Member States as well as about the social conditions under which EU migrant citizens live is largely lacking.

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