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The Right to Have What Rights? EU Citizenship in Need of Clarification

19 ELJ 2013

20 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2012 Last revised: 21 Aug 2014

Dimitry Kochenov

University of Groningen - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 5, 2012


This paper provides a brief critical overview of the recent EU citizenship case-law of the Court of Justice including Rottmann, Ruiz Zambrano, McCarthy and Dereci. While these cases open a number of new avenues of fundamental importance for the development of EU law, they also undermine legal certainty and send contradictory signals as to the essence of the EU citizenship status and the role it ought to play in the system of EU law. Most importantly, the Court’s reluctance to specify what is meant by the ‘essence of rights’ of EU citizenship potentially has disastrous consequences following its own determination that such rights play a crucial role in moving particular factual constellations within the material scope of EU law. EU citizenship and the rights associated therewith is now entrusted a fundamental role in establishing the confines of the scope ratione materiae of EU law. The substance and meaning of such rights is however left in suspense to harmful effects. An urgent clarification is needed.

Keywords: EU citizenship, NcCarthy, Dereci, Rottmann, Ruiz Zambrano, ECJ, CJEU, fundamental rights

Suggested Citation

Kochenov, Dimitry, The Right to Have What Rights? EU Citizenship in Need of Clarification (November 5, 2012). 19 ELJ 2013. Available at SSRN:

Dimitry Kochenov (Contact Author)

University of Groningen - Faculty of Law ( email )

Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 26
Groningen, 9712 EK

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