European Citizenship: Not for the Poor?

Friday, April 15, 2016
Assembly D (DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City)
Herwig Verschueren , Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp
The right to free movement for EU citizens has evolved from a right for economically active persons within the context of Europe’s economic integration to a fundamental right for all EU citizens whether or not they are economically active. Still, the right to free movement of economically non-active persons and to equal treatment with the host State’s citizens with regard to social benefits is subject to them having sufficient resources. As a result, in practice indigent people could very well be deprived of the right to free movement, excluding them from the central characteristic of European citizenship.

This paper examines the current rules and case law of the Court of Justice on this issue. It looks into the possibilities and limitations for indigent economically active or inactive migrant Union citizens to obtain a right to reside in another Member State and have access to social minimum benefits there. It critically analyses, in the light of inter alia the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the balance that the Court of Justice tried to strike in its recent judgments between the free movement rights and the Member States’ interest in limiting access to their solidarity systems. Finally, the paper intends to present some ideas and proposals on how the ambiguity between the right to free movement as a central quality of European citizenship and the restriction to it met by poor citizens could be solved, so as to guarantee the right to free movement for all, including the poor.

  • Philadelphia HVerschueren.pdf (689.0 kB)