The European Form of Family Life: The Case of EU Citizenship

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Table of Contents: I. Family life as a European legal form. – I.1. Family life and social life: the impotence of European Union law? – I.2. The family as a “form of life”: an existential approach to European Union law. – I.3. Law and forms of European family life: starting with concrete lives. The case of citizenship. – II. The European de-formation of family life figures: biological life and emotional life. – II.1. The “spouse”: the conjugal form of life. – II.2. The parent: the parental form of life. – II.3. The child: the “filial” form of life. – III. Functionalism and essentialism in the European form of family life: juridical life and ethical life. – III.1. The functionalist form of family life: from pragmatism to formalism. – III.2. The essentialism of family life: from the superior interest of the child to the “good” and “bad” parents. – IV. The European re-formation of family life: the emergence of the concept of “dependency”. – IV.1. The qualification of dependency. – IV.2. The gradation of dependency. – IV.3. The recomposition of dependency. – V. Conclusion.

Abstract: Considering European Union law through the prism of the “form of life” is part of an effort to go beyond an analysis that most often adheres to the institutional foundations of law. The challenge is to show that the European legal discourse contains language that contributes to a reconfiguration of the way we live and conceive our lives. Following this existential approach of the “form of life”, EU law can be seen as the place of a complex and subtle interaction between the lived and the imagined life. From this meeting comes the foundation as well as the transformation of our relationship to individual and collective life. The Article attempts to illustrate this interaction by unveiling how EU law and its interpretation express, often implicitly, a way of practicing and representing family life, its formation, functioning, and the values which drive it, thus giving birth to a European social imaginary in family matters.

Keywords: form of life – family life – EU citizenship – free movement – functionalism – dependency.

European Papers, Vol. 5, 2020, No 1, pp. 3-40
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/372

* Professor of European Law, Paris II Panthéon-Assas University,


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