The (Mis)Construction of the European Individual: Two Essays on Union Citizenship Law

EUI Department of Law Research Paper No. 2014/14

35 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2014

See all articles by Loïc Azoulai

Loïc Azoulai

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: 2014


European Union law has developed a concept of Union citizenship based on a right of exit from one’s country and a consequential right of entry in another Member State of the Union. ‘Empowering’ European citizens and enabling them to integrate into other Member States’ territories is its main purpose. If we seek to analyse further the concept of Union citizenship, it is almost inevitable that we inquire into the social background of this construction, the individual skills and resources it entails, the state structures and collective goods it affects. This is the puzzle with which the most acute commentators engage. Looked at this way, Union citizenship is about integration of Union citizens into national communities, financial solidarity with other Member States’ nationals and recognition of their personal identities. Ultimately it is about transnational integration and new forms of social justice within the Member States. There is, however, another way to engage with the concept. The focus on social integration is replaced by a somewhat more ambitious project: to empower the Union citizens to connect with Europe as a whole. This approach assumes that a proper regime of Union citizenship constitutes not only a right to free movement but a right to enjoy a common way of living. It would allow Union citizens to live, at least partially, in social and moral conditions which denote a far-reaching European society. If we take this project seriously, the problem, then, is as follows: how are we going to shape this project within a conceptual framework based on transnational integration? What does it mean practically to create ties between individuals who have been allowed to disaffiliate from their country of origin? To which ‘whole’ shall we refer that is not a structured state and yet does not boil down to a mere sphere of individual interests and particular social interactions?

The essays presented here suggest two ways to approach this problem. The first explores the concept of ‘the territory of the Union’ enshrined in the EU legal discourse as a possible venue for this shift in understanding the project of European citizenship. The second approach tells the story of an individual who feels strongly about being a ‘European’ with the right to be recognized everywhere in Europe without being part of any definite community. The first paper is an academic article which was commissioned by Dimitry Kochenov for a forthcoming edited volume on EU Citizenship and Federalism: The Role of Rights (CUP, 2015). The second is more of a narrative or a tale and is written in French. The first essay builds upon the second. The reason for bringing them together is to show that the literary form may contribute to an understanding of complex legal issues simply by showing a state of legal affairs in its most stylised form.

Note: Downloadable document is in English and French.

Keywords: European citizenship, EU Law, Individual, Territory, Values

Suggested Citation

Azoulai, Loïc, The (Mis)Construction of the European Individual: Two Essays on Union Citizenship Law (2014). EUI Department of Law Research Paper No. 2014/14, Available at SSRN: or

Loïc Azoulai (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze

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