The Citizenship of Personal Circumstances in Europe
Daniel Thym (ed.), Questioning EU Citizenship, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2018, pp. 37-56
25 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2017 Last revised: 14 May 2019
Date Written: 2017
The EU’s is a curiously atypical legal system which construes the on-going shift from citizenship to personhood in global constitutional law in quite an atypical way. The advent of the person boasts, globally, a powerful ability to remedy the harsh edges of the arbitrary exclusionary legal fiction of citizenship by embracing those who do not qualify to benefit from it. In the EU, however, the turn of constitutionalism to personhood plays quite the opposite role: it disables the protections of EU citizenship. This curious turn, which this paper aims to document and discuss, has two consequences. Firstly, it annihilates citizenship as a meaningful legal status in the EU, since its declared benefits and protections can always be overridden by personal circumstances of the holder: precisely what citizenship, at its inception, was supposed to make impossible. Secondly, it deprives of protections of citizenship precisely those who need it the most, since they become invisible in the eyes of the powers that be. As a result citizenship in Europe is turning into a ‘citizenship of personal circumstances’ – a figure of inescapable individualism imposed on those in need, who are thereby detached from other citizenry and branded out as not good enough in the eyes of the Union – leaving little space to the grand ideals of the past.
Keywords: EU citizenship; Personhood; Non-discrimination; Division of powers; EU federalism
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