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The self-perpetuation of EU constitutionalism in the area of free movement of persons: Virtuous or vicious cycle?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2013

University of Oslo, Department of Private Law, Karl Johans gate 47, 0162 Oslo, Norway


This paper analyses the mutual influence and self-perpetuating cycle of legitimacy of EU legal scholars and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in expanding and broadening the free movement rights of Union citizens and their family members. It is argued that legal scholars have played a dual role in promoting the constitutional paradigm of an ever-expanding scope of directly enforceable residence and movement rights in the EU. First, by presenting the expansion of free movement rights as an inevitable outcome of the EU constitutional order based on directly enforceable individual rights, scholars have played a significant role in legitimizing the jurisprudence of the Court in the face of initial resistance from the member states. Second, legal scholars have been an important source for the Court of Justice in developing its case law in this area. The Advocates General in their opinions have drawn on an expanding field of scholarship presenting the expansion of free movement rights as an inherent feature of the EU as a constitutional legal order. Spurred by the objective of turning the EU into more than an internal market, the opinions of the Advocates General have mostly been followed by the Court. Legal scholars have thus served not only as a legitimizing force, but also as a source of inspiration for the perceived constitutionalization of free movement rights in the EU.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013

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40 See Case C-456/02 Trojani [2004] ECR I-7573. The Court has, however, set certain restrictions on the right of access to social benefits. For instance, in Bidar (Case C-209/03), it argued against the Advocate General, holding that a certain degree of integration, possibly appropriate residence requirement, can be required. Moreover, the Union citizen may not become an unreasonable burden on the welfare system of the host member state. The Court has also stressed in Vatsouras (Joined Cases C-22/08 and C-23/08) that Article 24(2) of Directive 2004/38 remains valid and that member states retain competence to evaluate whether a jobseeker is entitled to receive social assistance whilst actively seeking work and having a genuine chance of finding employment. Benefits intended to facilitate access to the labour market, such as jobseeker’s allowances, however, are not to be regarded as social assistance and must be made available.

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