EU Freedoms at a Critical Juncture? The Positions of Member State Governments on EU Person and Services Mobility

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    Abstract

    Brexit has questioned the paradigm of ever expanding EU freedoms for persons and workers in the EU. Communitarian claims in favour of national sovereignty and social protectionism succeeded in mobilizing voters in the UK for leaving the EU. The study examines how liberal values underpinning the freedom of movement and freedom of services were contested by the governments of France, Germany, and the UK in the early 2010s. The findings of the comparison confirm that EU freedom rights are at a critical juncture. Policy change and underpinning normative claims of the governments of France and Germany suggest that the posting of workers is contested at its core, enabling competition of labour standards and wages in the single market. In contrast, freedom of movement and the right to equal treatment of EU citizens was only criticized at its margins, aiming at restrictions for access to specific benefits or unwanted groups. Regarding the UK, the analysis observes a reverse positioning: a rejection of equal treatment and affirmation of competition. Based on these findings it is argued that shifting support for the conditions for the posting of workers made recent communitarian corrections possible. However, continued support of the French and German government for the equal treatment of EU citizens underpinning the freedom of movement does not suggest radical changes to this freedom and key narrative for EU integration.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-36
    Number of pages19
    JournalCulture, Practice & Europeanization
    Volume3
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2018

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