Free movement and EU citizenship: a virtuous circle?

Heidi Mercenier, former guest researcher at ARENA, has co-authored an article in Journal of European Public Policy which confronts the European Commission's vision on EU citizenship with different meanings of free movement as expressed by young people in collective discussions.


The year 2013 was officially declared the European Year of Citizens (EYC) in the European Union (EU). Through this event, the European Commission (EC) reiterates a ‘virtuous circle’ – between citizenship, free movement and a sense of belonging – able to bring citizens closer to the EU. This contribution shows how this ‘virtuous circle’ tends to translate into a ‘tunnel vision’ that reduces citizenship to free movement. Through the analysis of EC discourses, of the literature on ‘movers’ and ‘stayers’, and of focus groups with young people from Brussels, we suggest to expand the understanding of free movement and its effects. Overall, this contribution proposes to re-evaluate the scope of the ‘virtuous circle’ by considering that the ‘stayers’ are also EU citizens, that free movement is not indisputably an attractive right, and that the movers do not unquestionably feel attached to the EU as a result of their mobility.

Full info

Ludivine Damay and Heidi Mercenier
Free movement and EU citizenship: a virtuous circle?

Journal of European Public Policy, Volume 23, 2016 - Issue 8: Best Papers from the European Union Studies Association 2015 Biennial Conference, Pages 1139-1157
DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2016.1186212

Published July 11, 2016 8:48 AM - Last modified Nov. 21, 2016 8:59 AM