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A Legal Analysis of the Possibilities and Impediments for Citizens Seeking to Enforce their Social Rights

Authors Sara Stendahl
Otto Swedrup
Frans Pennings
Susanne Heeger-Hertter
Gaabriel Tavits
Catherine Jacqueson
Alejandra Boto Alvarez Villazón
Elain Kaiser
Nadine Absenger
Florian Blank
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Law
Language en
Keywords social rights, redress mechanisms, extra-procedural hindrances, EU-citizens
Subject categories Public law


This is a legal study of the arrangements made in eight European countries to secure the enforcement of social rights. It is a study carried out as a response to the overall bEUcitizen research interest in potential barriers to a EU-citizenship. The aim of the study is to investigate the possibilities and impediments for EU-citizens in Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom to enforce their (moral and/or legal) social rights in the fields of education, health care, housing and social assistance. Our focus is on redress mechanisms. It is a study that is comparative in several dimensions (between rights, between citizens, between countries and potentially also between different legal levels). Results indicate that if rights are provided and if redress is offered, we have in the countries studied found no formal hindrances that discriminate against mobile EU-citizens. This said, we also learn that extra-procedural hindrances are a reality and that they create barriers especially problematic to mobile EU-citizens but also to EU-citizens living in their native countries. We conclude that the EU-citizenship project would gain from an exploration of new and innovative means of creating systems and institutions for the provision of basic, fundamental, social protection to secure life, dignity and means of social inclusion to all its citizens, no matter where in Europe they live or work. Europe is a region of welfare states and it is a barrier to the fulfilment of a well-functioning EU-citizenship not to fully recognise this fact.

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