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 5: Legal barriers to access of EU citizens to social rights

Frans Pennings


In 1992 the Treaty of Maastricht was adopted, that introduced inter alia a new concept: EU citizenship. It provided that EU citizens can rely on the rights ensured by the treaties and on free movement (Articles 20 and 21 TFEU). Since until that Treaty the provisions on free movement and non-discrimination on ground of nationality had been limited to workers and self-employed, this meant an important extension of rights. For workers, the Treaty guaranteed, already from the establishment of the EEC, that they had to be treated equally as national workers. Requiting equal treatment for economically non-active persons is much more problematic. If, for instance, anyone from the moment of entering a Member State would be entitled to social assistance, this might lead, it is feared, to ‘benefit tourism’ and that would clearly overstretch the solidarity of the host State. For this reason the combination of mobile EU citizens and social rights constitutes a politically highly sensitive area.

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