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The Value of Union Citizenship Lies

Info: 1416 words (6 pages) Essay
Published: 23rd Jul 2019

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Jurisdiction / Tag(s): EU Law

The Value Of Union Citizenship Lies In Its Capacity To Confer Rights On Those Moving Within The European Union Who Falls Outside The Category Of “Workers”.

Discuss, Including Reference To The Case-Law Of The Court Of Justice.

European Union citizenship deals with a number of aspects in relation to citizens of the European Union such as social, civil and political aspects which will be discussed through the case-law of the Court of Justice later on in this essay. The Treaty on European Union 1993 introduced the legal concept of EU citizenship as part of an effort to move away from an economic community to a political union which gave rights to the movement, residence, the right to vote in Euro and local elections, the right to use EU embassies abroad as well as having the right to petition the European Parliament and the ability to apply to the European Ombudsman, as stated in Article 17-22 EC which show the creation of these rights. The value of the Union citizenship is important in many ways especially those that are not protected in the traditional way of being a ‘worker’, however through the case-law of the Court of Justice it will be established how rights have been extended for those who are unemployed, in education, certain social welfare aspects, and the extent of the right of free movement and the right to equal treatment in relation to citizenship and the proportionality element.

Nationality Requirement

In the case of Micheletti v Delegacion del Gobierno en Cantabria, which pre-dates the provisions relating to citizenship, discusses the aspect of Art 17 of the EC Treaty ‘Citizen of the Union’ and the necessity of having the ‘nationality of a member state’. Also illustrates that it is sufficient enough for an individual to hold the nationality of a Member state and a non-member state. In this case the claimant, Mario Micheletti who was born in Argentina, had dual Italian-Argentinean nationality as he was born to Italian parents. He wanted to set up as a dentist in Spain, however was rejected by the authorities as they required him to have the nationality of his country of birth. This was challenged, and he claimed to be entitled under Article 43; the freedom of establishment, due to Italian law granted him Italian nationality as he was born to Italian parents. So thus the ECJ held that he was both Italian and Argentinean, so therefore it is enough for nationality to include dual nationals. The use of Article 17 EC and Article 18 EC is adequate to be applied in this area resulting dual nationality. This is supported further by Garcia Avello v Belgium, Garcio Avello was a dual Belgian-Spanish national resident in Belgium, in this case it concerned the prohibition by a Belgian rule to change a registered surname. This was due to the requirement of Belgian rule for the fathers name to be registered, however the children wished upon adding the mother’s surname. They challenged this by relying upon Article 12 EC with Article 17 EC, claiming that they were being discriminated against in comparison to other Belgian nationals. The ECJ ruled the refusal was in violation of these Articles.

A case concerning rights of free movement is Zhu v Chen , which concerned a right to remain in UK because her Irish daughter is an EU citizen so thus she was exercising her free movement rights. However the issue here was whether that Zhu could in order to claim a right of residence in a Member State was whether her mother was entitled to remain with her as a ‘primary carer’. The ECJ stated; ‘that the young child was able to take advantage of the rights of free movements and residence guaranteed by EU law.’ So by refusing a parent to reside with a child it consequently limits the rights for the child in question.

There are limitations in place which are conveyed through the case of Wijsenbeek, which union citizens can be compelled to produce evidence of nationality when crossing borders. As the person in question, refused to produce a passport when moving within EU, the ECJ held that the free movement rights were not unlimited, and thus states can check to establish that you are an EU citizen.

The cases shown above portray the development of the nationality requirements which would previously create problems for the citizens and there accessibility in regards to the discriminatory aspects, and their right to free movement which relates to other factors being expanded which will be discussed below.

Challenging Discrimination

The issue of challenging discrimination on the grounds of nationality was successfully illustrated in the case of Martinez Sala, a Spanish woman who was living in Germany applied for a child raising grant. She was refused on the grounds of nationality; as she was not a German national and did not have a residence permit. She challenged this refusal, and thus the ECJ ruled that as she was Spanish national so therefore an EU citizen who lawfully resided in Germany, she was able to call upon Article 12 EC in conjunction with Article 18 EC. So the fact that the ECJ has allowed citizens to invoke the above Articles in question conveys the right of Union citizens to attain equal treatment when legally residing in another member state. This case was applied in Grzelczyk which concerned a claim for financial assistance from the Belgian social service which was known as the minimex. A French national who was a student in Belgium who was turned down on the basis that he was not a Belgian national or a migrant worker, which was the requirement of Belgian legislation. The ECJ held that as he was a French national who was lawfully resident in Belgium and thus was protected by Article 18 EC and allowed to call upon Article 12 EC to claim the minimex. This reinforced the equal treatment for EU citizens who required financial solidarity.

This issue is developed further in the case of Bidar, which relates to those in education, resulting in the equal treatment in access to student loans. This is an important case as this result in an expansion and a review of the rights that were previously not available to certain citizens; furthermore the judgment from the ECJ affirmed that Article 12 EC must be read in conjunction with the provisions of the Treaty on citizenship of the Union. So in Bidar, it concerned a French national who was living in London, however was denied a UK student loan on the basis that UK legislation excluded time that was spent mainly for the purpose of receiving full time education. So he challenged this, on the basis that was indirectly discriminatory, as he had come to live in the UK for the purposes of full-time education and as the UK legislation did not allow this he was thus not permitted to attain a student loan. Subsequently, this resulted in unequal treatment, so the ECJ held firstly that the British rules were indirectly discriminatory and secondly as a French national who was a resident in the UK had the right to challenge this on the combination of Articles 12 and Articles 18 EC. This judgment is important as due to this EU citizens are entitled to equal treatment if they have a ‘genuine link’ with the state.

This is supported further by the case Collins v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whereby an Irish national who claimed Job Seekers Allowance eight days after arriving in the UK. He was initially refused as habitual residence was required; however the ECJ held that as an EU citizen, he is entitled to equal treatment. However a limitation was placed that benefits can be restricted, but not if the person has a genuine link to the local labour market. This case links in to the nationality requirement as the ECJ held that a dual Irish-American national could rely upon EU law.

In conclusion, the value of European Union citizenship lies in the capacity of it’s rights that it has transferred to those moving within the European Union who fall outside the category of “workers” which has been discussed above. From those are unemployed, in need of financial assistance whether to assist their education through to allowances to raise children. The Court of Justice has developed the understanding and the availability of those rights for those who do not fall under the category of workers and has emphasised the limitations that are in place.

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EU law, or European Union law, is a system of law that is specific to the 28 members of the European Union. This system overrules the national law of each member country if there is a conflict between the national law and the EU law.

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