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


The right of freedom of movement for economically inactive Union citizens

Solange Maslowski,

Center for Comparative Law, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic



  • Freedom of movement, citizenship of the Union and general limits


Freedom of movement has been built progressively since the foundation of the European Economic Community in 1957, starting with the freedom of movement for workers[1], expanding to all Union citizens in 1993[2] and enlarging to the citizens of new Member states from Eastern, Central and Southern Europe during the 21th century.[3]

This expansion of the mobility of Union citizens has been possible thanks to the granting of the citizenship of the Union to all national citizens of the Member States by the Maastricht treaty. This Union citizenship was accompanied by different rights, the most important being the freedom of movement and residence.

During the 21th century, the picture of freedom of movement of Union citizens has changed deeply since the coming of two main factors:

  • the last enlargements of the European Union to economically poorer Member states from Eastern, Southern and Central Europe,
  • and the occurrence of the global economic crisis.Recently, there has even been strong political pressure in some Member States to reconsider the benefits of the principle of free movement, which has been built progressively since the foundation of the European Community. This restrictive approach has arisen against the background of the global economic crisis, which occurred just after the enlargements of the EU, leading to more nationalistic and protectionist measures, which have legal consequences for Union citizens on the move.It is clear from case–law and from EU primary and secondary law that integrated migrants and economically active residents are privileged and who will benefit from more advantages than the temporary resident and the inactive resident. The citizenship of the Union stays fundamentally inegalitarian[5] because there is still no equality of treatment between every union citizen[6].
  • Nevertheless, the lawful economically inactive resident, despite not being having total equality of treatment with national residents, still benefits from freedom of movement and residence. The less favoured is certainly the economically inactive resident not fulfilling the conditions of article 7 (mainly lacking necessary financial resources) and therefore not being a lawful resident. Last few years, most of the cases of expulsion of Union citizens were concerning this category of Union citizens.
  • Many steps have been taken to facilitate Union citizens’ entry to and residence since 1957. The status of Union citizens residing in a host Member State is becoming increasingly similar to that of nationals of the host Member State, even if total equality of treatment is still not possible in some areas, such as social assistance. Indeed, article 21.1 TFEU on freedom of movement and residence subjects this freedom to the necessary compliance with limitations and conditions imposed by EU primary and secondary law. The citizenship directive from 2004[4] is also imposing conditions to the freedom of movement and residence of Union citizens especially for long-term residence. This directive even allows Member states to terminate the residence of Union citizens in case of threat to public policy, public security and public health, of abuse of rights and of unreasonable burden on the social assistance system of the host Member state.
  • More and more economically inactive Union citizens are using their right of freedom of movement to escape critical economic situation into their Member State of origin. They usually move from weakly economically Member States to economically more successful Member States with the hope to find a job and a better situation.


Download the full paper here: Solange_Maslowski


This article has been supported by the Czech Science Foundation – GAČR through its project N. 15-23606S Selective Issues Deriving from the Transposition and Implementation of Directive 2004/38/EC.


[1] At its beginning, freedom of movement of workers was concerning around 233.2 million persons.

[2] Ex-article 8aTEU (today 21.1 TFEU) has provided freedom of movement and residence for every Union citizen independently of its social status (worker or economically inactive resident).

[3] Today after the last enlargement in 2013, freedom of movement of persons is concerning around 506, 9 million persons, twice more persons than at the beginning of freedom of movement of workers.

[4] Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

[5] Ségolène Barbou des Places, La non-discrimination entre les européens, horizon indépassable de la citoyenneté de l’Union? in Francette Fines, Catherine Gauthier, Marie Gauthier, La non discrinimation entre les européens, Editions Pedone, Paris 2012, p.199.

[6] Rémy Hernu, Principe d’égalité et principe de non-discrimination dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice des Communautés européennes, LGDJ, Collection Bibliothèque de Droit Public, 2003.

Social rights of EU migrant citizens: A comparative perspective (Deliverable 6.1)

Deliverable 6.1: Research paper on categorization of social welfare benefits with respect to the factors hindering access by other EU nationals and third-country nationals

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.

Download the paper here: Deliverable 6.1_Social Rights of EU Migrant Citizens: A Comparative Perspective

Egalitarian Euroskepticism? How does the Hungarian extreme right contribute to ideas of European Citizenship?

by Katalin Amon and Andrea Krizsan


Recent by-elections and results of public opinion polls in Hungary indicate remarkable strengthening of extreme right wing party Jobbik (Jobbik Movement for a Better Hungary), which becomes now the second strongest political party in the country. This takes place amidst corruption scandals and consequent rapid decrease in support for the governing FIDESZ, and the virtual absence of a potent left wing oppositional force. Jobbik is emerging as a key political force in the country. But how is the rhetoric of Jobbik contributing to the idea of European citizenship?

An analysis of communication connected to the campaign for European Parliamentary elections is indicative of some of the highly controversial specifics. Krisztina Morvai is seen as one of the most charismatic women politicians in Hungary, and she is one of the three MEPs representing Jobbik. Following a stormy career path, which included membership in the UNs Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (until 2004), as well as spearheading of the Hungarian anti-domestic violence movement before 2005, criminal lawyer Morvai turned to extreme right around the mid-2000s and is now one of the leaders of Jobbik, who was re-elected to the EP in 2014. Her primary focus on women’s issues, youth, Roma and migration make her rhetoric highly relevant for discussing gender, generational and ethnicity related barriers to European citizenship.

Victims of exploitation versus invaders of the Hungarian border

While all far right parties in the EU use nativist discourses, in the case of Jobbik, and, particularly Morvai, nativism is combined with the appropriation of leftist critiques of global capitalism. Jobbik’s nativist discourse is about an unequal Europe in which Hungary and its citizens are second class, exploited either as “economic refugees” across Europe, or by Western European corporations reigning in the Hungarian labor market.

In this discourse, the EU emerges as an empire lead by banks and large corporations, not politicians. The EU, according to Morvai, “colonizes” Hungary by buying Hungarian land and operating businesses, especially factories that rely on the low wages of unskilled Hungarian labor and its exploitation. Morvai even uses Wallerstein’s terms of “centrum” and “semi-periphery” when referring to Hungary’s position within the EU. This discourse is combined with nationalism and anti-Semitism (references to global “Zionist conspiracy”). Morvai points to EU’s double standards on human rights, which are conducive to the failure to protect the rights of citizens living in exploited nations like Hungary is, and failure to speak out against the human rights violations committed against these citizens.

The EU imperialism discourse involves a double speech about nativism and immigration. On the one hand, Jobbik and Morvai problematize the emigration of Hungarian workers, especially Hungarian youth, to Western Europe as a phenomenon of colonization and a venue for exploitation. They therefore demand the EU to protect workers’ rights and human rights of Hungarian citizens living in other EU member states. Morvai refers to Hungarians who work in other EU countries as “economic refugees” to underline the political nature of their immigration. Unlike the “economic migrants”, a term the Hungarian right uses for undeserving immigrants who exploit national resources, Hungarian “economic refugees” abroad are those who are forced to leave Hungary and are exploited by the West.

On the other hand, Jobbik expects the EU to defend the Eastern borders of the union more effectively, and protect the interests of the Hungarian residents living in this area. These Hungarians are seen to be disturbed by illegal immigrant “invaders”, who aggressively knock on their windows, leave trash behind, and spread viruses. However, Morvai frames the EU’s assumed responsibility in strengthening its borders as an obligation of the rich “colonizer” countries rather than the exploited nations like Hungary.

Thus, while nativism is framed within a discourse of workers’ rights and human rights in Morvai’s statements, this leftist vocabulary is combined with nationalism and anti-Semitism. She criticizes the EU for its colonization and exploitation of Hungarian workers, but, at the same time, calls for stronger EU surveillance and law enforcement at the Hungarian borders where “invaders” might enter the country and disturb the peace of Hungarian citizens.
Hungary is a sending country and not a receiving country (the share of migrants from the entire population in Hungary is below 1 percent). In this context Jobbik’s Euroskepticism connects the nativist discourse to a leftist and anti-colonialist logic, a vocabulary of exploitation mixed with nationalism.

Hungarian women as second class citizens

Morvai’s speeches devote particular attention to rights of Hungarian women. A theme cutting across the colonization and exploitation rhetoric discussed above, Hungarian women emerge as the main victims of second class citizenship. They are the prostitutes, cheap laborers, or trafficked sex-slaves of Western Europe, victims whose protection is not assured efficiently enough neither in their migration experience, nor at home. Responsibility is allocated primarily to inefficient EU directives and EU authorities that are incapable to enforce them, and only secondarily to the incompetent Hungarian authorities. What is the use of EU regulations if they allow an unequal European citizenship through which some citizens get protection, others not, and those who are unprotected are always the ones on the periphery of the EU?

Morvai’s speeches talk about women’s rights, advocate for the norms of the Istanbul Convention, for unacceptability of inequality in pay between women and men, or between heterosexual individuals and individuals belonging to sexual minorities. Yet, importantly this always emerges in a context of criticism against EU institutions. Women’s rights are quoted, when the EP sessions go over time, thus preventing women employees from attending to their families. Disregarded EU obligations are quoted when discussing the very different pay of women on two sides of European state boundaries. But EU responsibility and double standards are also highlighted when discussions in the EP only speak about early age pregnancies in the developing world while similar disadvantages are faced by Roma girls in the member states of the EU, especially on the Eastern periphery. Trafficking in women is also seen as an arena of double standards: inactivity of police in the rich member states of the EU is explained with the fact that victims always belonging to the member states in the periphery, like Hungary, while beneficiaries are always Western men.

What emerges is gendered and classed Euroskepticism, capitalizing on norms that are central to the EU, a skillful utilization of a gender equality repertoire that makes the resonance of a disillusioned public opinion with the right wing rhetoric dangerously easy.

An ideal of substantively egalitarian EU citizenship emerges, which is manifested by market equality and de facto rights equality across the board for citizens of all member states. This comes under attack by colonization, economic exploitation and reliance on double standards, which threaten Hungary and its Hungarian citizens and favor those from the rich Western member states of the EU. Especially so in the context of an inert and corrupt national government.

The categorization of economic rights (Deliverable 5.1)

The identification of economic rights relates to the economic context in general (also referred to as ‘economic phenomenon’) on the one hand and to citizens’ liberties on the other. Deliverable 5.1 is aimed at uncovering a definition of the concept ‘economic rights’, thereby identifying their specific nature. In each country economic rights deal with the regulation of the factors of production (labour and capital) and with limitations to private economic activities (business regulation), connected with their exploitation. More generally economic rights are concerned with property ownership and economic initiative. From these two main categories each legal system developed a broader list of rights connected to the economic phenomenon, focusing on market regulation, the protection of competition, and the interests linked to business (economic free initiative). Common trends in the historical evolution of the regulation of property and economic initiative have been observed across the Member States. From the industrial revolution to the more recent developments in the economies of the Member States, the need to protect citizens’ social and economic interests can be characterized by different legal solutions, which are first described from a broader perspective (sections 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1) before turning to the different national experiences (2.3, 3.2, 4.2, 5.2).

These trends have determined to what extent in the respective Member States the freedom of initiative, social protection within the economic production process and the post-industrial economy are, irrespective of the differences between the various legal systems, regulated in a similar fashion, i.e. by means of codification, through the incorporation in the constitution or by means of legislation; however, legal tradition and political background have informed the unique and country-specific enforcement of these rights within the Member States.

Download the paper here: Deliverable_5_1_Research paper on the categorization of economic rights


L’après Charlie – Reflecting on Freedom, Religion, and Security

The School of Public Policy (SPP) and the Center for European Union Research (CEUR) at Central European University (CEU), the French Institute of Budapest, and the Embassy of France in Budapest cordially invite you to L’après Charlie – Reflecting on Freedom, Religion, and Security.

In a series of discussion panels, experts from academia, the media, and other professional arenas will debate the implications of the January 2015 Paris terrorist attacks on the scope and purpose of freedom of expression, the role of religion in society, and public security policies.

Panel topics include:

  • the scope of freedom of expression from a comparative perspective, exploring in particular the tensions between freedom of expression on the one hand, and religious freedoms, human dignity, and public order and security on the other;
  • freedom of expression in the media, and the protection of journalists from multiple threats, such as terrorism, governmental pressure, or economic dependency;
  • the place and role of religion in contemporary European societies;
  • changes in terrorism patterns and their impact on public security policies in general, and on anti-terrorism efforts in Europe in particular.

More details and the event program can be found here.

This event takes place in the context of research activities carried out under the EU-funded bEUcitizen (Barriers towards EU Citizenship) project.

The legal framework for civil rights protection in national and international context (Deliverable 7.1)

The analysis carried out for Deliverable 7.1 focuses on the recognition and scope of civil rights of EU citizens and third-country nationals by national, European and international law. The national reports (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and Ireland) reveal that the main sources of civil rights in the different countries are the national constitutions and specific national legislation, the European Convention of Human Rights and the EU Charter. In substantial terms, the civil rights are quite similar and entail, for instance, the freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial, freedom of association and assembly. The scope and recognition of civil rights in the countries assessed is nonetheless dependent on the national legal system and its openness to international and European civil rights. The application of the EU Charter is increasing in national case law. The ECHR seems, however, to be the main source of reference for international civil rights by national courts. Awareness of the civil rights in the EU Charter could thus be improved. A particular difficulty with the Charter is that it is only applicable within the scope of EU law, with the consequence national courts may be inclined to rely on the ECHR when in doubt as to whether the EU Charter is applicable to a specific national case.
In terms of barriers to citizenship, it seems that, as a preliminary conclusion, the recognition of civil rights is much dependent on national legal systems and that judicial practice show a preference to refer to the ECHR over the EU Charter. There are, however, signs that this is slowly changing. In most countries, the national legislation lacks references to the EU Charter or the ECHR. Nevertheless, most of the international and European civil rights are recognized in national law, because these norms are directly applicable or because these norms are transposed into national law.

Download the full paper: Deliverable 7.1 -Research paper on the legal framework for civil rights protection in national and international context

Basic European rights to free movement under threat

On Tuesday 27 January, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted a conference on “Basic European rights to free movement under threat”, organized together with the Europeans Throughout The World (ETTW) and the Latvian EU Presidency.

Despite being the EU’s most popular achievement, the right to free movement is increasingly under threat; which is a threat for the EU itself.  Three panels at the event sought to: 1. clarify the upcoming political agenda, through a question-and–answer session with the EU institutions;  2. present evidence on the benefits and challenges in relation to free movement within the EU; 3. combat scaremongering about free movement and migration.

As speaker at the event, in the third panel, the Academic Coordinator of bEUcitizen, Professor Sybe de Vries, introduced the project to a wide audience, consisting of members of the European Commission, the EESC, ETTW, various stakeholders, academics and other interested persons. Sybe focused on the multiple dimensions of EU citizenship and in particular on the rights and barriers that mobile EU citizens face in exercising their rights.

2015_01_27_eu_rights_free_movement_threat_Sybe de Vries

Sybe DE VRIES, coordinator bEUcitizen, University of Utrecht

The conclusions produced by the event will be taken to a conference in Riga on 11-12 May, to be held in partnership with the Council Presidency.

Please click here to download the presentation given by Sybe de Vries.


EU composite citizenship and civil rights – a short presentation

On Thursday 22 January 2015, the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), Utrecht University, hosted the international workshop “FRAME-ing inclusive approaches to EU human rights, democracy and rule of law”.

The workshop took place in the context of the EU FP 7-funded FRAME project, a large-scale, collaborative research project coordinated by the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, which focuses on the contribution of the EU’s internal and external policies to the promotion of human rights worldwide. The main aim of the workshop was to identify how to construct law and policy so that it affords effective empowerment, recognition and protection of the human rights of vulnerable people.

This inspiring and fruitful workshop saw the participation of international academic experts, policy makers and partners in the FRAME project. During the first panel (EU human right: inclusive approaches?), Professor Sybe de Vries, Academic Coordinator of the bEUcitizen research project, and Dr. Hanneke van Eijken had the opportunity to present bEUcitizen to an international audience, and in particular to representatives of the European Union Institutions (including Mr. Andreas Stein from the EU DG Justice, Mr. Charles-Michel Geurts from the European External Action Service.).

The presentation given by Sybe de Vries focused in particular on the composite concept of EU citizenship and the civil rights of European citizens.

To download the presentation, please click here

Conference: Basic European rights to free movement under threat

On Tuesday 27 January, Europeans throughout the World (ETTW) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in cooperation with the Latvian EU presidency will organise a conference on ‘Basic European rights to free movement under threat’.

Eurobarometer polls show that free movement is the European Union’s most popular achievement. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, the younger generation has gained Europe-wide freedom, but it is not one that can be taken for granted. Whilst all the evidence shows the advantages of free movement of people, this basic European citizenship right is increasingly under threat, which in turn is a threat to the EU itself.

Defending European rights to free movement is the main focus of this event.

Three panels will provide recommendations for civil society organisations, policy-makers and the EU institutions:

  1. Clarifying the agenda/ Dialogue with the EU institutions

Emerging from the June 2014 European elections, what is on the EU institutions’ agenda for free movement and migration? What are the priorities on the ground, as seen from the perspective of migrant communities?

  1. Collating the evidence/ Hearing from researchers

Most economists agree that free movement of people and migration are win-win situations for countries of origin, host countries and migrants themselves. How can we maximise the advantages and counteract negative side effects?

  1. Combating scaremongering about free movement and migration

What strategies on the ground and communication techniques are effective to combat the challenges of free movement? The conclusions from the event will be taken to a conference being held in Riga on 11–12 May in partnership with the Council Presidency.

In this third panel, the Academic Coordinator of bEUcitizen, Prof. Sybe de Vries, will speak about the right to free movement of European Citizens.

For more information about the Conference, please click here

To register, fill in the online form before 22 January 2015


European Union judges allow British citizens to bring non-EU family members to the UK.

The Court of Justice of the European Union, in the case of Sean McCarthy, ruled that “where third-country nationals hold a ‘residence card of a family member of a Union citizen’, the United Kingdom cannot make their right of entry subject to the requirement that they must first obtain a visa”.

The decision comes after Mr McCarthy, a dual British and Irish national who has been living in Spain since 2010, and his wife Helena Patricia McCarthy Rodriguez, a Colombian citizen,  brought an action against Britain under the EU’s freedom of movement rules.

Ms McCarthy, who holds a ‘residence card of a family member of a Union citizen’ issued by the Spanish authorities, claimed she should be allowed to travel to Britain (where the family owns a house and travel regularly to) without having to obtain a British visa. Indeed, under the UK provisions concerning immigration, in order to be able to travel to the UK holders of such a card must apply for an entry permit (‘EEA family permit’), which is valid for six months.

The European judges argued that concerns of the British government over abuse of rights or fraud committed by third-country nationals do not justify the adoption of a measure founded on consideration of general prevention. The Court stated that “the directive on free movement of Union citizens does not allow measures which, in pursuit of an objective of general prevention, preclude family members from entering the territory of a Member State without a visa”.


Read the press release here

The full text of the judgement is published on the CURIA website.