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 11: The construction of social rights

Hartley Dean


This chapter draws on a recent study of the social construction of social citizenship in eight European Union countries, considering both the historical evolution of social rights and the prevailing discourse of key policy actors. It observes that underlying their dramatically different historical trajectories, the countries had had some key transitions in common: an early consensus favouring social insurance for workers; some more or less limited constitutional acknowledgement of social rights; and, more recently, varying levels of submission to neo-liberal principles of social provision. Conceptual understandings of social rights among policy actors were found to be varied and inconsistent: social policy discourse across Europe is not cogently informed by any shared understanding of social citizenship. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the idea of a European Citizen's Income. It is suggested that such an idea could provide a focus, and attract consensus, in the same way that, in a previous era, social insurance once did. The right even to a modest European Citizen's income might provide a meaningful and unifying social dimension to a supra-national form of citizenship.

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