This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 320294


2016 Report on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

The European Commission has recently published the 2016 Report on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The report outlines the initiatives taken in 2016 by the EU to strengthen fundamental rights for the benefit of people in the EU. It also looks at how these rights were applied across a range of EU policies and in the Member States in 2016.

You can read the full report here

For more information, visit the EC Justice and Consumers webpage here

Report on ‘Israel: Religion and Ethnicity as Basis for Different Minority Rights’ (D4.8)

The Israeli citizenship regime is a moving target. Some basic social, ethnic and political divisions which are captured by the categories of nationality, ethnicity, class, gender and religiosity are redefined by day-to-day administrative, regulatory and political processes. In these ways, Israeli citizenship is not so much a matter of constitutional debates on abstract rights of all or parts of the citizenry, it is also and more importantly, a manifestation of regulatory processes. The basic divisions are explored here with regard to a newly defined “credit ranking” regime which has been constructed by various state actors during the past two decades. This regime promotes the establishment of a new kind of citizenship, a financial citizenship. As part of its activity, each citizen is categorized according to his or her ‘financial worth’, and their personal financial profile is constructed as a device for identifying, locating and classifying targeted populations. Under these information markets citizens are no longer seen as individual customers, but as varying degrees of commercial risks and revenues. The new regime is expected to enhance competition in the highly centralized banking sector and encourage more competitions in this field. In this sense, these market-building initiatives are part of an extension of the credit based culture (or Financialization) of Israeli citizenship. The research, which is the first academic research on this issue in Israel, analyzes the policy process and extends the discussion around it by analyzing the economic, social and political aspects of Israeli citizenship in general and regarding minority and disadvantaged groups in particular.

For the full text please click here






Report on Croatia: A Serbian Minority Inside and a Croatian Diaspora Outside? (D4.7)

The existing research on the Croatian citizenship defines several stages of the development of the Croatian citizenship regime (Ragazzi & Štiks 2009; Djuric 2010; Štiks 2010b; Koska 2011; 2012; Ragazzi, Štiks & Koska 2013; Baričević & Hoffman 2014). The first decade of Croatian independence was marked by the disputes over the status dimension of citizenship, where the criteria for the membership in the newly formed citizenry had to be defined. Within this stage, the generous provisions for the inclusion of ethnic Croats regardless their residency have been enacted, while the provisions for exclusion of certain categories of non-Croat ethnic residents were implemented. The second stage which literature perceives to have start in 2000 (Petričušić 2004; Jović & Lamont 2010; Djuric 2010; Štiks 2010b; Koska 2012) was marked by liberalization of the discussions over the rights dimension of Croatian citizenship. The final stage involves the changes and impact on the Croatian citizenship regime that emerged in the aftermath of the Croatian membership to EU. Since Croatia has been an EU member state for only three years, the exploration of the changes of the Croatian citizenship regime with the EU have not been addressed so far. The task of this study is to explore the key political debates that emerged in the context of the previous developments of the Croatian citizenship regime.

Throughout all three stages, idea of membership to EU played a very important role in Croatian project of nation and statehood building; during the 1990s it was perceived as a long term guarantee of Croatian sovereignty, statehood stability and economic prosperity. The 2000s until the accession were marked by democratic changes and the legislative reification of the discriminatory policies and shortcoming of the regime of the 1990s, which were largely influenced by the meeting the requirements of the EU accession, which was set as the primary national priority and goal. The last stage, which have started in the eve of the accession and continued till today, is marked by the return of the identity disputes regarding the Croatian state and the membership identity. As this report will highlight, the first three years of EU membership did not build on the previous decades’ accomplishments of more inclusionary policies towards minorities; instead, Croatia has witnessed the revival of the nationalist discourse which is today in the media often framed under the term ‘conservative revolution’.


For the full report click here.





Constraints imposed by financial markets on political choice in the EU (D8.1)

This report outlines an analytical framework through which constraints imposed by financial markets on decision-making in the European Union (EU) both at the national and at the EU level can be understood in the context of the latest economic and financial crisis. The report departs from the notion of ‘political citizenship’ as an analytical device for understanding how financial market constraints are reflected in political decisions and discusses in how far such constraints restrict or are compatible with European political citizenship rights. This aspect remains an under-studied element of EU decision-making. The report concludes that the question of in how far financial markets constrain political decision-making cannot be treated separately from understanding how financial market developments are translated into specific policy options by executive and legislative decision-makers in the context of the decentralised and multi-level economic governance architecture of the euro area. In this context a small transnational elite group of senior civil servants and central bank officials plays a particular role as they interpret financial market developments and map out policy options for elected executive and legislative decision-makers. This report is related to the bEUcitizenship report ‘Democratic parliamentary control in times of crisis’ which covers a comparative case study on four different countries which is built upon the framework advanced in this report.

Click here for the full text: D8.1 FINAL


The objective of WP7 is to study, from the perspective of EU citizenship, specific problems EU citizens face in exercising civil rights and liberties in areas which fall within the scope of EU law, but also in areas beyond the scope of EU law. In the EU legal context, fundamental rights, including civil rights, have gained not only visibility but also, arguably, significance,
now that the Lisbon Treaty has made the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding.

Media freedom and policy in the EU in general has been widely researched and studied, focusing largely on the areas less directly relevant for citizens, i.e. television and radio broadcasting, media regulators, etc. This case study therefore focuses on tackling barriers in an area more relevant for individual citizens’ freedom of expression, referred to as citizens’ journalism. This is a new field of practice and research, where conceptual clarifications are needed and which calls for further research into the application and evolution of legal and procedural frameworks, in line with changing journalism landscape (blogs, online comments, etc).

The Council of the European Union adopted Guidelines on freedom of expression online and offline for its external policy, while it does not have such guidelines internally, for its member states. Internally, freedom of expression is not strongly under the radar. There has been a discussion whether the mutual recognition of judgments in civil and commercial matters should not apply to defamation cases, since there is so much divergence. At the end, this has not become the case, therefore the strong substantive divergences remain, and need to be mutually recognized, with all resulting problems with forum shopping, and a potential race to the bottom.
This report’s initial understanding of citizen journalist has deliberately been an uncircumscribed one, in order not to impose an arbitrary, potentially too narrow concept on the different legal orders examined in this task. Therefore, the questionnaire was drafted to screen all possible forms of citizen journalism, such as blogs, social media, comments, wiki contributions, and had asked specific questions about their status, responsibility, sanctions on their own, and in comparison to a generally perceived category of journalism if there is one in the given legal system.
Citizen journalism is generally seen to provide an important avenue for political participation, the political engagement of citizens between elections, and the reinvigoration of a sense of authenticity or belonging. In an era of mistrust in both domestic and EU political institutions, republicanism is gaining appeal: scholarship has already recognized the need with regard to citizen journalism specifically, Ian Cram wrote a whole book on citizen journalism from the republican perspective. If there is any chance that the internet creates a truly republican “digital commons” so many hope for, it would certainly not be possible without citizen journalists. Equally, any prospect that EU citizens develop or further develop a transnational political discourse or an European public opinion or political public as Habermas would argue, presupposes citizen journalists writing on it. In this sense, citizen journalists writing on EU issues appear to be a necessary (though naturally insufficient) condition for more political, social, or in any sense thicker (post/or beyond-market) version of EU citizenship, both in practice and conceptually.
The so conceived ideal of citizen journalism would promote these more ambitious ideals of European citizenship and democracy. This is not to deny that activities looking like citizen journalism might of course harm others or might go beyond the scope of freedom of expression, and violate privacy rights or spread hate messages, and so on. There is some literature observing that citizen journalism might run the risks of bad journalism (hate speech, misinformation, etc.) to a larger extent than professional journalism. The initial understanding of this paper however was not to form any view on that. The risks generally do not seem to outweigh the massive legitimacy and other political-moral gains a more engaged transnational citizenry would bring to the European project. Furthermore, there was no indication that courts would be less willing to grant protection against violations of privacy, equality or dignity if caused by citizen journalists. This deliverable undertakes to check what the legal conditions are under which they operate, and whether there is convergence or divergence between different EU countries’ legal orders in this regard.


Please read the deliverable here: Deliverable7.4


This report derives from the work of coordinators of Work Package 9 of the FP7 programme bEUcitizen coordinated by Utrecht University (NL) and the University of Turin (IT) and is based on the findings of four work packages focusing on the economic (WP5), social (WP6), civil (WP7) and political (WP8) citizenship rights with regards to gendered and generational biases in the access to these citizenship rights. These findings have been discussed at a panel meeting in the Oviedo work conference of the bEUcitizen consortium in June 2016. Contributions have been presented by the University of Trento (WP5; IT), the University of Oxford (WP6; UK), University of Oviedo (WP7; ES), and Utrecht University (WP8; NL). In addition, the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (WP4; ES) and Utrecht University (WP3, NL) have contributed to the panel meeting. This report presents the findings of these WPs as well as the discussions during the meeting. It first presents the questions the WP9 coordinators have raised regarding gendered and generational biases in the access to the four citizenship rights to each of the representatives of WP5 to 8. Second, it summarizes the reactions to these questions. Third, the discussion at the panel meeting is presented and finally some conclusions are drawn.

Click here for the full text: Deliverable 9.3


In the legal EU context, fundamental rights, including civil rights, have recently not only gained visibility, but also acquired an increasing significance. This is particularly so since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon (2009), which turned the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights into a legally binding document. However, well before the Treaty of Lisbon, the civil rights of EU citizens, in particular those of free movement and non-discrimination, had already gained legal recognition in EU law through the case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The civil rights that have been studied in WP7 concern the set of rights necessary for the exercise of individual freedoms, whose exercise encounters significant legal, practical or policy difficulties. These include inter alia the right to free movement and the right to equal treatment (non-discrimination), the right to family life, the freedom of expression, the right to privacy, the freedom of religion, the right to property, the right to an effective judicial remedy and the protection against loss of citizenship. The right to gain access to travel documents, essential to the freedom of movement and of residence, was included as well. The foregoing were studied from the perspective of EU citizens, but also from that of third-country nationals, who enjoy certain rights on the basis of EU law (either derived rights as family member of EU citizens or under EU legislation concerning third-country nationals).
The scope of civil rights EU citizens enjoy on the basis of EU law is limited, as they can only be invoked against EU institutions and against Member States when implementing EU law (which should seemingly be understood as all situations that fall within the scope of EU law). A nagging uncertainty persists however as to when EU civil rights can be relied upon to challenge domestic restrictive measures or practices. Moreover, the scope of the residence rights that come with EU citizenship has traditionally been limited to transnational situations. The latter has produced unpalatable differences in the protection afforded by EU citizenship and the EU ‘Bill of Rights’ to mobile EU citizens who exercised their rights of free movement on the one hand, and to ‘sedentary’ EU citizens who have not on the other. Some case law of the ECJ suggests that there is a core body of citizenship rights which may be enjoyed without having to prove a transnational dimension, but the contours have remained unclear, and so far a further elaboration has not been forthcoming.

For the full text click here: D7.7_Final

The quest for a European civic culture – The EU and EU Citizenship in policies and practices of citizenship education in seven EU member states (D8.10)

Since the Treaty of Maastricht (1992) all nationals of EU member states hold EU citizenship too. EU citizens hold EU citizenship rights in addition to their national rights. These rights include civil, social, economic and political rights. Holding these rights does not guarantee actual participation: there are, for instance, increasingly concerns about (too) low voter turnout and a (too) low number of citizens participating in other activities related to political decision making. Therefore, there seems to be a quest for a European civic culture. Citizenship education, and more specifically European citizenship education, is seen as an important instrument to stimulate the development of a European civic culture.
This study shows that (governmental) policies and practices of citizenship education differ widely between the seven examined countries (the Netherlands, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Hungary). Citizenship education practices are, for instance, deeply related to the type of the democratic development, type of the democratic regime and social issues within the polity. Furthermore, the education practices show great variety of available teaching modules both in formal and informal way. There also seems to be a certain paradox between acknowledging the importance that civic education has for society, and political readiness to acknowledge that specific training is needed for teachers to be eligible to qualitatively educate and prepare students for their roles as active citizens.
However, all countries share a very similar approach regarding to the European dimension of citizenship: it is a highly neglected area within the national curriculum. The focus is dominantly on the factual and theoretical knowledge on the EU and especially its institutions rather than the promotion of values and the training of skills needed to exercise EU citizenship rights and needed for development of active, participating EU citizens. Hence, European citizenship education within the member states seems to be in its infancy. To develop a European civic culture, socialization and developing civic competencies are important. Therefore, it is important to strengthen and further develop European citizenship education. European citizenship teaching packages may help policymakers and teachers at the national level with these developments.
Moreover, considering the existing underdeveloped conceptualization and focus on EU dimension of citizenship in all studied cases, the introduction of (more) EU citizenship education has to be aware of at least two challenges. The first one stems from the generally dominant notion of elitist type of democracy of EU level, which is perceived to be dominated by the bureaucracy and disconnected to daily needs and practices of EU citizens. The role of EU citizenship education has to raise awareness on existence of interdependence of the decisions made on the EU level to the political consequences for national policies a practices of citizenship. The full emancipation of citizens can hardly be established even at the national level, if they are excluded from active participation at the decision making processes on the supranational level. The second challenge relates to the identity dimension of EU citizenship. There can hardly be EU without some sort of shared solidarity among its citizens. Citizenship education may not be a sufficient tool for achieving this goal, but it certainly is one of the most appropriate ones’ on the disposition of the member states.

For the full text click here: D8.10 final version

EU citizenship: a slipping anchor to hold on to rights? Brexit and the consequences for EU citizens with British nationality

By Dr. Hanneke van Eijken[1]

This summer many European citizens woke up in shock. Whilst reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, scrolling on Facebook, having breakfast, we learnt that a small majority of the voters in the Brexit referendum voted to leave the European Union. Not only does the (potential) Brexit have consequences for the internal market and the economic and social rights of EU citizens, but it also threatens their status as such. This is shocking for EU citizens with the nationality of another Member State residing in the United Kingdom, because their status will be redefined. For instance, in the future they will no longer be able to rely on equal treatment based on EU citizenship in the United Kingdom. Possibly even more shocked were British nationals, who might now actually lose their status as EU citizens, either living in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the European Union. This will significantly impact their possibilities to work, study, and take up residence in another EU Member State.

In this blog-post I will discuss the role of EU citizenship in the Brexit, focusing on whether EU citizenship could be used as an anchor for British nationals to stay within the European Union – at least as citizens.

The current Article 20(1) TFEU provides: ‘Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship.’ Therefore, the fact that a Member State ceases being an EU Member State consequently means that the nationals belonging to that State are no longer EU citizens, and may lose their rights as EU citizens to free movement, amongst others.

Since the Treaty of Lisbon there is a possibility for Member States to withdraw from the European Union. Paragraph 1 of Article 50 TEU reads ‘Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements’. In order to activate this Article, the withdrawing Member State must notify the European Council. After notification a process of negotiation commences in order to conclude an agreement, which is adopted by the Council with the consent of the European Parliament. If after two years of negotiation there is no agreement between the withdrawing State and the EU, the Treaties will simply cease to apply to the Member State at issue. At the time of writing the United Kingdom has not yet notified the European Council to start the Article 50 procedure. However, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced that she will start procedures to withdraw from the European Union, and the UK’s Parliament is involved in the procedure, so such a notification is to be expected (soon). Until then, the United Kingdom remains a full Member State of the European Union and its nationals remain EU citizens.

In this context, Article 20 TFEU and Article 50 TEU collide. On the one hand the Treaty grants EU citizens a citizenship status, but on the other hand it seems that Article 50 TEU undermines (or could undermine) the EU citizenship status and the rights that come with that status.

Invoking EU citizenship to challenge the loss of rights by Brexit?

As observed, if and when the United Kingdom withdraws its EU membership, British nationals who do not hold the nationality of another Member State would no longer qualify as EU citizens. Consequently, their rights derived from that status would also be lost. Could it be argued that, based on Rottmann and Ruiz Zambrano, a Brexit would result in the deprivation of the genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights of EU citizens, thereby possibly affecting – or even blocking – the withdrawal from the EU, made possible by Article 50 TEU?

In the Rottmann case the Court of Justice of the EU explicitly ruled that the loss of nationality due to national legislation falls within the scope of EU law and that Member States should respect the principle of proportionality if they revoke the nationality of one of their nationals. The case concerned Mr Rottmann, who acquired German nationality due to naturalisation by the German authorities. When he acquired German nationality he also lost his Austrian nationality. When the German authorities discovered that Rottmann had hidden information (that he was subject to criminal investigation in Austria) during his application for German nationality, they withdrew his newly acquired German nationality. The Court of Justice of the EU emphasised that the Member States are competent to regulate nationality rules, but that it is clear that ‘the situation of a citizen of the Union who […] is faced with a decision withdrawing his naturalization, adopted by the authorities of one Member State, and placing him, after he has lost the nationality of another Member State that he originally possessed, in a position capable of causing him to lose the status conferred by Article 17 EC [Article 20 TFEU] and the rights attaching thereto falls, by reason of its nature and its consequences, within the ambit of European Union law’ (para. 42). In the case of Ruiz Zambrano the Court of Justice of the EU added that the ‘genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights’ of EU citizens may not be removed by a measure of a Member State (para. 42).  Since EU citizenship is based on the nationality of Member States it is valid and interesting to question whether one could argue that a Brexit would be disproportionate in light of EU citizenship. A Brexit would clearly lead to a situation that falls within the scope of EU law, based on Rottmann, and in which citizens are deprived of their genuine enjoyment of their rights as EU citizens.

However, in my view there are several reasons why the case of Rottmann might not be helpful for those British nationals who want to rely on their EU citizenship in order to keep that status.

First, there is a fundamental difference between Rottmann-like situations and Brexit: in Rottmann the German nationality was withdrawn by the German authorities by an individual decision, affecting one EU citizen. In the Brexit-context the (potential) loss of EU citizenship shall derive from a decision made by the government after a democratic referendum was held. Should individuals be able to challenge the outcome of such a referendum by relying on their EU citizenship rights? If that would be the case a democratic decision would be undermined. That would also run counter to the wording and system of Article 50 TEU, which refers to national constitutional requirements. Moreover, in Rottmann there was the serious threat that Mr. Rottmann would become stateless, which is not the case for British nationals.[2] There are therefore many significant differences between Rottmann and a Brexit situation.

Second, another reason not to be too optimistic for the application of Rottmann to Brexit is more formal, based on Article 50 TEU. Article 50 TEU was introduced in the Treaty of Lisbon to create a possibility to withdraw from the European Union. If the Court of Justice of the EU would rule that British nationals could invoke Rottmann to challenge losing their status as EU citizens, the Court of Justice would erode the purpose of Article 50 TEU.[3]

A third reason is that even if one could argue that Rottmann is applicable to the Brexit situation, it is important to bear in mind that in Rottmann the Court of Justice held that the withdrawal of nationality (including the status of EU citizenship) should be proportionate. It did not rule that withdrawal of nationality is principally prohibited by EU law. In that sense, it also seems highly questionable whether a Brexit would not be proportional, since the process was started by a referendum and was introduced by the Prime Minister, and, most importantly a Brexit is a decision taken by a democratic state.

Hence, even though it might be very disappointing, it will be hard to rely on EU citizenship as an anchor to hold on to rights enjoyed as an EU citizen.

Associated citizenship of the European Union

Are there alternatives to EU citizenship? In the United Kingdom the concept of associated citizenship of the European Union was discussed in the aftermath of the Brexit-referendum. Associated EU citizenship would entail a form of citizenship ‘for those who feel and wish to be part of the European project but are nationals of a former Member State’. It would offer ‘these associated citizens the rights of freedom of movement and to reside on its territory as well as being represented in the Parliament through a vote in the European elections on the European lists.’[4] Probably this proposal will not succeed to lead to another form of citizenship for British nationals, for various reasons. One important reason would be, in my view, that associated citizenship would (probably) lead to a status for those with sufficient means and possibilities to actually exercise their free movement rights. Still a small percentage of EU citizens actually migrates to other Member States (more permanently), which would make associate citizenship an ‘European elite status’. Such inequality would run against the absolute core of citizenship: equality. Another consideration is that in terms of the division of powers and the system of Article 50 TEU it is first of all up to the United Kingdom to negotiate on a new status for its citizens. It would therefore be not very appropriate, perhaps, if the solution came from the European Union, now that the United Kingdom wants to withdraw. Moreover, on a more procedural level, such associated citizenship would require a Treaty revision, which implies the consent of all Member States. It is not very likely that such a Treaty revision would garner unanimous support.

The way forward: destination unknown

It therefore seems that EU citizenship will not solve a Brexit for those who want to remain in the European Union as EU citizens. At the same time, as Davies argues, if EU citizenship can be revoked for a whole population by 51% of the voters, then how fundamental is EU citizenship? Davies states: ‘if we accept that Union citizenship can be removed by a national parliamentary majority of 51% then we implicitly regard that citizenship as a contingent status of convenience, a discount card in the supermarket that is Europe, rather than a corollary of supranational belonging.’ How does Article 50 TEU relate to Article 20 TFEU? Should Article 50 TEU not be read in the light of EU citizenship? Does EU citizenship become an additional status that can be revoked even if many want to keep their rights as an EU citizen? In that sense it is now even more important than ever to define (or redefine) the narrative of EU citizenship and its future.

Brexit poses various difficult questions in the context of EU citizenship: how to deal with the acquired rights of EU citizens residing in the UK? What will happen to the rights of British nationals in other Member States? Are they suddenly regarded as third country nationals? What consequences would that have? Many of these questions will have to be answered in the process of negotiations between the EU and the United Kingdom, as pointed out in more detail by Coutts. However, another urgent and fundamental question is, in my view: how do we want to value EU citizenship in a changing European Union, taking into account different developments on EU as well as on national level(s)? Is it time to redefine EU citizenship as a fundamental status or should we agree that EU citizenship becomes less constitutional, less supranational in concept? Or should we reinforce the underlying values of EU citizenship and what are those? EU citizenship seems to be more contested than ever, nowadays. A slipping anchor. Are we drifting away or can we try to secure what is often called the destined ‘fundamental status’ of nationals of the European Union?

[1] This blog is based on a larger contribution by Hanneke van Eijken and Pauline Phoa that will appear in the BEUCitizen book: ‘Civil Rights and the Coming of Age of EU Citizenship – Challenges at the Crossroads of the European, the National and the Private Sphere.’ Edward Elgar (forthcoming in 2017). See also the BEU Citizen report on core citizenship rights.

[2] P. L. Athanassiou and S. Laulhé Shaelou, EU Citizenship and its relevance for EU exit and secession, in: D. Kochenov (ed.), EU citizenship and federalism (Cambridge University Press), forthcoming.

[3]  See on this point also Gareth Davies, Union citizenship – still Europeans’ destiny after brexit?, Europa Law Blog, July 2016,

[4] See the proposal for a regulation, Amendment 882 by MEP Charles Goerens.

Commission registers European Citizens’ Initiative calling for European Free Movement Instrument

A European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) inviting the Commission to guarantee the right of free movement for “Europeans of good standing” within the EU through a ‘Universal Instrument’ has been registered today.

This initiative calls on the Commission to identify an appropriate method of granting such an instrument, suggesting a unified laissez-passer document as an option.

Read the European Commission press release here.

If you want to know more about the European Citizens’ Initiative or if you want to download the official guide on the ECI, please click here.