From Alternative Triggers to Shifting Links: Social Integration and Protection of Supranational Citizenship in the Context of Brexit and Beyond

Printer-friendly version

Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. Brexit and loss of citizenship. – II.1. The matrix of loss of citizenship. – II.2. Citizens’ rights protected in the withdrawal agreement. – III.3. The home State ransom and the fragility of supranational citizenship. – III. Citizenship protection between home and host State. – III.1. Checks on the home State link. – III.2. Real links between home and host Member States. – III.3. Social integration and the right to enter a country in International law. – III.4. Protecting supranational citizenship through host State links. – IV. Conclusion.

Abstract: Brexit highlights how supranational citizenship is held to ransom by a European citizen’s home Member State. When the home Member State pulls the cord, supranational citizenship can be switched off. This evidences on the one hand the weakness of European citizens’ position in their host Member States. On the other hand it challenges the resilience of supranational citizenship as a status. In the eyes of some, the fragility of supranational citizenship that Brexit reveals is but a side effect of democracy. In other views, that fragility and its implications for the rights of individual citizens call for a rescission of supranational citizenship’s link of derivation from nationality. This Article problematizes the latter link from a novel angle. It explores the role of social integration in building an alternative link, for purposes of rights, status, and belonging, to the national space of a host Member State. Seen from this angle, the derivation link to nationality is just one aspect of supranational citizenship’s anchoring to an underlying national space. While European citizenship stays formally linked to nationality of a home Member State, over the course of a European citizen’s cross-border experience the substantive link to an underlying national space shifts between home and host Member State. This shift discloses novel opportunities to protect supranational citizenship in the context of a Member State withdrawal from the EU.

Keywords: Brexit – European citizenship – supranational citizenship – genuine links – social integration – free movement.

European Papers, Vol. 3, 2018, No 2, pp. 733-759
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/253

* Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield School of Law,


European Forum


Forum Européen


Forum europeo


Foro Europeo