How Citizenship Divides: The New Legal Class of Transnational Europeans

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. The selective nature of Union Citizenship. – III. The right to live in another Member State. – IV. The right to equal treatment. – V. The family rights of mobile citizens. – VI. Adjudication rights. – VII. Separate, privileged, threatening. – VIII. The logic of Union Citizenship. – IX. Conclusion.

Abstract: Union Citizenship is intended to bring Europeans together. This Article explores one of the ways in which it may divide them. It argues that Union Citizenship creates a new transnational class, and gives the members of that class a legal status with the following characteristics: they are legally separate, or differentiated, from other Europeans; they are privileged, and they are threatening, in the sense that their rights have the potential to disrupt or undermine institutions and laws in a way that is disadvantageous to non-members of that class, or at least likely to seem so. The members of that class share certain qualities: they are economically self-sufficient, they live lives in which their families or work or study are cross-border, and they are only partially allowed to share in the solidarity of static national majorities. On the other hand, their link with the EU is legally direct and important, and they often have more in common with each other than with locals: they form a European community. They could be described as economically successful, partially uprooted, truly European, cosmopolitan outsiders. It is almost as if EU law has set out to create a class whose role in Europe is an echo of that fulfilled by the Jews that the continent lost.

Keywords: European Union citizenship – free movement – European integration – cosmopolitanism – inequality – individualism.

European Papers, Vol. 4, 2019, No 3, pp. 675-694
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/336

* Professor of European Law, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam,


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