“Social Citizenship” at the Street Level? EU Member State Administrations Setting a Firewall

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European integration, and especially the European Court of Justice, has challenged the national character of social rights; the latter have become increasingly transnational. This contribution examines the impact of the Court at the street level. It analyses how Member State administrations handle the social rights of mobile EU citizens in practice in case they are granted discretion. Therefore, a framework of shades of compliance is developed that captures Member State responses to EU law beyond the dichotomy of compliance and non-compliance. I argue that Member State administrations tend to make the access to social benefits difficult. Still, there may be differences in the shade of compliance on the ground. Surprisingly, these differences cannot be explained by the party-political environment but depend to a high degree on exposedness. The claim is empirically supported by a comparative study of Austrian welfare (and migration) administrations' practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1252-1269
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Authors. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies published by University Association for Contemporary European Studies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Fields of Science and Technology Classification 2012

  • 506 Political Science


  • EU citizenship
  • compliance
  • court of justice
  • member state administrations
  • welfare rights

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