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


EU Citizenship Teaching Packages for secondary school pupils (Deliverable 11.6)

In this paper we present the outline of a series of five teaching packages for secondary school pupils in the age group of 14-16/17. These teaching packages all address a specific dimension of EU citizenship. More attention for EU Citizenship is relevant for several reasons. It first refers to the set of civil, political, economic and social rights that all citizens of EU countries possess in addition to the rights that come with their national citizenship. Secondly, it refers to the membership of a European political community in which each citizen of an EU country can participate actively; next to or intertwined with, being active in a local or national political community.

One of the conclusions from a comparative study of civic education in 7 EU-countries (D8.10 bEUcitizen), is that adolescents are hardly educated in what their EU citizenship rights are, nor are they trained in competencies to realize or enforce these rights. Parallel to this, young adults leave secondary school without being taught the civic and political competencies to participate in the variety of political communities on different levels they belong to.

EU citizenship is relevant when you stay in your country of origin and in the town you grew up in. For instance, in one’s role as a consumer. Furthermore, political participation manifests itself on the local level in different forms. On the one hand, during elections: local, regional, national or European. On the other hand, in many forms of collective action by citizens who organize themselves in protest movements, around opinion leaders in the public sphere, interest groups and NGOs. Often when there is a European dimension, the action starts at the local level. For that reason, it is important that citizens both understand their rights and that a more lively European public sphere emerges. As a result, we choose to develop teaching materials for secondary school pupils that contribute to the EU dimension of their civic competencies.

With these teaching packages we do not intend to lobby for or create support for EU citizenship. Our goal is to make EU citizenship visible in a realistic way, showing concrete relevance not only for ‘movers’ but especially for those who stay at home; show how EU citizenship is directly related to one’s daily life and how one can influence these choices.

After having outlined the goals, target group and didactics, in the appendix a summary of the five teaching packages are presented:

  1. Getting my rights: Europeanization at home
  2. Lobbying and getting in touch with the EU
  3. Organizing our interest
  4. Travelling around
  5. Advising the EU in solving Global Problems

Read the paper here

Work-related Conditionality and the Access to Social Benefits of National Citizens, EU and Non-EU Citizens

This article contributes to an understanding of how conditionality applies across social security and immigration policies in restricting the access to social benefits of national citizens, EU and non-EU citizens. Specifically, the article builds on Clasen and Clegg’s (2007) framework of conditionality in the context of welfare state reform by extending that conceptual framework to include migration. The framework is applied to examine how different levels of conditionality have been implemented in UK policy reforms to restrict access to rights of residence and to social benefits. It is argued that a conditionality approach moves beyond a binary of citizens and migrants in social policy analysis, contributing to an understanding of the dynamics and interactions of work-related conditions in restricting access to social benefits, with implications for inequalities that cut across national, EU and non-EU citizens in terms of the relationship of particular groups to the market.

Read the full article here:

Gender and generational dimensions in accessing to Social Rights by EU mobile citizens (Deliverable 9.2)

Authors: Luppi MatteoSantero AriannaNaldini ManuelaKnijn Trudie

This study investigates, from a gender and generational perspective, the actual possibilities and impediments that EU mobile citizens experience in their access to social rights. The report covers a wide spectrum of welfare regimes and migration regimes by including twelve EU and non-EU countries. A review of the gender and intergenerational issues concerning access by EU mobile citizens to social rights is presented by looking at both national and EU laws. Increased intra-EU migration has led to greater interest in EU citizens’ entitlements to public benefits. Because many of these entitlements have been maintained under the national jurisdictions, selective criteria as means to prevent welfare tourism have been implemented by many countries. Gender and intergenerational issues are not directly addressed. However, access to these rights mostly depends on meeting requirements or possessing economic resources, which may be indirectly related to gender and generation as long as they are based on the applicants’ employment position. Therefore, because in many countries migrant women are employed in disadvantaged labour market positions, they are at greater risk of encountering practical barriers in meeting the requirements for social rights entitlements. Also young EU (mobile) citizens, when they move to other Member States for study purposes, may encounter obstacles in accessing some social rights if they do not fulfil certain requirements.


Download the report here


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

Towards Impact Assessment indicators for EU citizenship (D11.2)

Tools and frameworks for executing impact assessments are useful to provide policy and decision makers with knowledge and guidance. This might help in identifying possible barriers – but also opportunities – for exercising European Union citizenship. Impact assessment is the systematic ex-ante evaluation of the likely or possible consequences of policies, project, programs and other forms of regulation. The existing Impact Assessment guideline in ‘Better Regulation guidelines’ (European Commission, 2015) focus on economic, social and environmental impacts. EU citizenship impacts need to be added to this list to overcome barriers for EU citizenship.
Therefore, in the working paper (D11.1) ‘Assessing policy implications for EU citizenship’ (Bakker et al., 2016) options for an impact assessment framework for EU citizenship are explored. In the paper favorable impact assessment approaches are identified even as elements that should be included in the framework and what requirements the framework should meet. However, before to establish an impact assessment framework for EU citizenship, it is necessary to develop indicators to assess EU citizenship. These indicators need to be formulated based on existing (impact assessment) guidelines and documents and based on outcomes of the bEUcitizen project so far. Therefore, we analysed all the deliverables of the bEUcitizen project so far to determine whether attention needs to be paid to specific topics in an impact assessment framework for EU citizenship. Annex I shows an overview of the analyzed deliverables and their topics. In this report, we sketch an overview of the most remarkable topics from the deliverables. This leads towards impact assessment indicators for EU citizenship, which will be the starting point for the Impact Assessment tool for policymakers on the European and the national level (deliverable 11.3).

For the full text click here: D11.2 – Impact Assessment

Impact assessment tools for policy makers on the European and the national level (D11.3)

Since the Treaty of Maastricht (1992), every person holding the nationality of a European Union (EU) Member State is automatically a citizen of the EU and is granted an additional set of rights. In 2007, the Lisbon Treaty strengthened EU citizenship by making the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding and by expanding the opportunities for democratic participation and increasing the visibility of EU citizen rights. Citizens are and must be at the heart of European integration. Therefore, it is important to make citizens’ lives easier, to help them understand their rights and involve them in a debate on the Europe they want to live in and build for future generations (European Commission, 2013, p.3). At the same time, the European Commission has noted in its 2010 EU citizenship report and in its 2013 EU citizenship report that citizens face difficulties in exercising their rights and are not always aware of the rights they legally possess (European Commission, 2010; European Commission, 2013).
To overcome possible barriers and stimulate opportunities for exercising EU citizenship an impact assessment for new policies and regulations might be useful. However, existing Commissions impact assessment guidelines do not focus on EU citizenship impacts. The focus is on economic, social and environmental impacts. Therefore, it is necessary to include EU citizenship. Bakker et al. (2016, p.12) note: “An impact assessment guideline where EU citizenship is included will make decision makers aware of risks for new barriers for citizens when exercising their citizenship rights and, in an ideal world, make them aware of what policies and regulations offer increased opportunities for exercising these rights. In the long term, this leads to a European administrative reality in which it is more easy and common for individual citizens to exercise their EU citizen rights”.
To develop an impact assessment framework that focuses on EU citizenship too, different steps are taken within the bEUcitizen project. First, in the working paper (D11.1) ‘Assessing policy implications for EU citizenship’ (Bakker et al., 2016) options for an impact assessment framework for EU citizenship are explored. Favorable impact assessment approaches are identified even as the elements that should be included in the framework and what requirements the framework should meet. Second, in (D11.2) ‘Towards Impact Assessment indicators for EU citizenship’ (Bakker and Van der Kolk, 2016) eight indicators to assess EU citizenship are developed based on outcomes of the bEUcitizen project so far and existing impact assessment guidelines and documents. The insights from these papers have been a starting point for this report.
In this report, we aim to include EU citizenship impacts in an impact assessment tool. When we include EU citizenship impacts, Bakker et al. (2016) argued it is necessary to include two specific elements into the impact assessment framework: (1) to assess EU citizenship impacts attention is needed for both EU citizenship rights and participation in the EU (political) community (the so called technical-rational and post-positive perspectives) , and (2) attention need to be paid to the EU and national level and the interface between the impact assessments on both levels. We explain these two elements further in chapter 2. In chapter 3 a practical ‘rules of thumb’ guide for carrying out an  impact assessment is presented. In seven practical steps we explain how to carry out an impact assessment for EU citizenship. To make these steps transparent and workable we present tools for policymakers. These tools, presented as infographics, can be used by policymakers to see in a glance which steps to take in an impact assessment and where to think about when assessing for instance social and EU citizenship impacts. This will help to make the execution of impact assessments more workable and useable for policy makers on the European and the national level, especially with regard to EU citizenship. Furthermore, we do a proposal for revising existing impact assessment documents of the Commission. In chapter 4 we will explain this briefly. In annex I we present an extended version of the Guidance on social rights, now including EU citizenship, and annex II suggests a revision of the existing Impact Assessment Guideline. The report ends with a final note on how these proposals fit into the existing EU strategies.

Read the full report here: D11.3-impact assessment tools

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.

Citizenship and Work: Case Studies of Differential Inclusion/Exclusion (Deliverable 10.3)

In its previous research, Work Package 10 of bEUcitizen examined the rise of the worker-citizen and found that work can shape differential inclusion into the community. However, people may also be differentially included and excluded from the world of work. Deliverable D10.3 explores these processes with regard to specific groups of people or individuals that engage in specific types of labour. Five case studies of different social groups (both citizens and migrants) serve to examine the relationship between work, citizenship and inclusion/exclusion. The case studies are a mixture of a single state focus, or a comparative focus of particular groups in select countries involved in WP10: Croatia, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands and the UK.1

Deliverable D10.1 analysed the ways in which the ‘worker citizen’ underpins national and EU citizenship with respect to policies regarding entry to and residence in a nation state, naturalisation, and access to social security provisions, policies which cut across citizens and migrants. We examined how citizenship is increasingly cast as being deserved by hard-working, self-reliant individuals prepared to take responsibility for themselves and demonstrated that citizenship requires having the status of a worker (Anderson, Shutes, Walker 2015). For the purposes of this report, we refer to ‘worker’ as both a legal and social status. Under EU Law, to attain worker status, work has to be deemed to be “genuine and effective” and not on such a small scale as to be “marginal and ancillary” (See Anderson, Shutes, Walker, 2015: 52 for further discussion). Thus understanding the relation between inclusion and exclusion and the spaces in between (which we described as ‘differential inclusion) requires us to analyse how people are differentially included in labour markets and in the world of work.

Analyses of the relationship between citizenship and the labour market have tended to examine the exclusions of migrants and the exclusions of those who have the legal status of citizenship separately. For example, the literature on the impact of immigration policies on the labour market participation of migrants has tended to sit apart from the literature on the impact of welfare-to-work policies on the labour market participation of citizens. In keeping with the theme of this work package, we are interested in examining citizens and migrants together, taking as our starting point inclusion/exclusion from the labour market, rather than the migrant/citizen binary. This deliverable (D10.3) examines how the labour of different groups is differentially included – how different groups are differentially included as ‘workers’ – and discusses the implications for understanding the relationship between citizenship and work, and the barriers to citizenship, for both citizens and migrants.

We have five case studies which focus on different social groups and the ways in which they are differentially included in the labour market (in different national contexts). They comprise: (1) people with disabilities as participants in the adjusted wage programme in Israel; (2) EU migrant women in the UK; (3) refugees in Croatia and Ireland; (4) domestic workers in the Netherlands. The fifth case study, beggars/begging in the UK and Croatia, was chosen to explore exclusion from the world of work and the delineation of the boundaries of labour itself, as well as its relation to honour and to community.


Download the full report here: D10.3 Citizenship and Work

Report of Case Studies on Gender Equality as a Focus Point of National and Nativist Discourses (Deliverable 9.7)

The overall aim of WP9.7 is to analyse ‘cross-national case studies on gender equality as the focus of national and nativist discourses’. This deliverable is based on the national reports on the rhetoric of populist radical right parties from the seven selected countries, i.e. Croatia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, Italy and Spain, together with Israel. The objective of this synthesis report is to identify similarities and divergences in framing migration, mobility, gender and family and the implications of these frames for European citizenship. Our sample of parties were selected from continental, Nordic, Central and Eastern European and Southern European member states of the EU, all experiencing different path dependencies and breaks in their socio-economic, political and cultural institutions, something which may be formative for populist radical right agendas. .

The analysis has identified different logics in the framing of gender equality in relation to migration, mobility, diversity and family issues: An economic dimension that links migration and diversity to the logic of the labour market and the welfare regime, and a cultural dimension that links gender, family and religion to national values and belongings. The economic rationale, in the sense that concerns for migration and mobility override issues related to gender equality and the family, seems to be the most prevalent one for the Northern European countries, while the cultural rationale is much more visible in the case of the other countries, South, East Central and Continental European alike.

Overall, the analysis illustrates both similarities and differences in the selected parties’ framings of migration and mobility. Many similarities exist between the Northern, Southern and Eastern European radical right parties in regards to the negative positions on migration and ethnic, religious and national minorities. Despite the similarities, the analysis also points at important variations across the geographical divide between Eastern and Western radical right parties in relation to internal mobility, primarily attached to the economic dimension. In the West, the parties perceive their citizens as “invaded” by EU-migrants, and in the East as being forced to migrate; both positions blaming the EU policies for the welfare problems, their countries experience. However, practically all parties frame migration around its financial strains on the welfare systems, the economy, and in the West also in terms of labour market integration.

Gender, family and religious issues, including women’s and gay rights, used to be a crucial part of the cultural dimension, but family issues such as the support for ‘working mothers’, have moved to the welfare dimension, as part of a Conservative agenda to secure labour power and boost the national economy. The report concludes that in spite of differences in national welfare and family models, there is a similar trend towards an instrumental use of gender and family issues as a means to secure the welfare state, or as a way to solve the problems with family crisis, demographic sustainability, and protecting the national values.

The overall conclusion of the synthesis report is that EU-citizenship is more contested than ever, and it demonstrates that the strengthening of the nativist and nationalist right-wing parties across Europe and in the EP is challenging the EUs founding principles of free mobility of labour/open borders, the principles of gender equality, as well as the guiding principles of non-discrimination of nationalities, ethnicity, sexuality and religion. Despite their differences in relation to family and gender issues, the selected radical right parties agree upon one common goal: to restrict crucial elements of EU citizenship related to internal mobility and diversity. Some parties even propose an ethnic citizenship limited to nationals born within the country, and others call for rights of ethnic Diasporas both in EU member states and beyond. Thus, all the analysed parties across the geographical divide support increased border control, although with different arguments. They thus propose different versions of Euroscepticism, which are all opposed to fundamental principles of internal mobility, and the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of nationality.

Finally, the report confirms the importance of contextual embeddedness for the divergences between the analyzed populist radical right parties. Divergence or convergence depend on meeting points between emerging European political opportunities and national contextual factors brought to the European arena by the diverse parties. In addition it is worth noticing that major events such as the refugee crises can prompt the reorganization of agendas, marginalization of controversial points, and alignment of these parties along the same platform.


Download the full report here: Report 9 7 – Version 16 06 2016


In Grzelczyk, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) stated that: “Union citizenship is destined to be the fundamental status of nationals of the Member States.” Although the ECJ has refrained from explaining what this ‘fundamental’ status entails, it has been argued that if EU citizenship is really destined to be the fundamental status of Member State nationals, all Member State nationals, including children, should feel the effect of that status, irrespective of the exercise of free movement rights.


Should EU citizenship accommodate the fundamental rights of underage EU citizens?


At the policy level, the position of the child is anchored in the EU Agenda on the Rights of the Child. At legal level however, the framework lacks teeth to firmly secure that position. The Treaty makes little reference to children and the EU legislator has only limited competence to adopt measures. The Charter recognizes the best interest of the child in Article 24, but its scope of application is limited. Up until now, international influences have been limited due to the reluctance of the ECJ to rely on non-EU sources.


Because the rights have been largely confined to citizens exercising their free movement rights, the relevance for children is not so evident. A distinction is made between rights derived via Article 21 TFEU (‘Route A’) and Article 20 TFEU (‘Route B’). Route A refers to minor EU citizen children from moving EU citizens, who have been awarded far-reaching rights to facilitate their integration in the host State. Route B (via Article 20 TFEU) refers to cases in which a parent/carer derives rights from his minor EU citizen child directly, who has not exercised his free movement rights. In Zambrano and subsequent case law it was established that third country national family members of minor EU citizens are entitled to a derived right of residence, when refusal of such right would mean that both the minor EU citizen and their family member would have to leave the territory of the EU.

This assessment requires a relationship of a highly dependent nature. Although the interpretation of the notion of ‘dependency’ is crucial to enable children to enjoy their family life in the EU, clear guidelines as to what exactly constitutes ‘dependency’ do not exist. The strict interpretation of the Zambrano criterion by the ECJ has led to number of cases in which the minor EU citizen was separated from his third country national parent, possibly infringing his right to family life.


Rights derived via Route A are very much dependent on a familial link. Rights derived via Route B are only awarded after passing very strict test, in which the presence of just one parent has been found sufficient. It is hard to imagine how this could ever be in ‘the best interests of the child’ and its ability to enjoy family life. In the Chavez case the ECJ has the opportunity to offer a higher level of protection to minor EU citizens, by providing clarification on the interpretation of the ‘dependency’ criterion and by establishing a link with the Charter. Although the ECJ only has limited means at its deposal, an approach which takes the best interests of the minor EU citizen as a starting point would in my opinion be most preferable. A real amelioration of the position of minor EU citizens however, would require more dramatic action by the European legislator.

Therefore it can be concluded that although from a children’s rights perspective it would be welcomed if EU citizenship would accommodate the fundamental rights of underage EU citizens, it currently does not.


Anne van Heijst


Blog based on her Master thesis in EU Law.

Download the thesis: 160701 Thesis Anne van Heijst