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EU Citizenship and EU Fundamental Rights: Taking EU Citizenship Rights Seriously

Martijn van den Brink

European citizenship offers great potential for the protection of fundamental rights. Due to the relation between EU citizenship and EU fundamental rights, the Court's seeming willingness in Ruiz Zambrano to protect the substance of EU citizenship rights could potentially have an immense impact on the EU fundamental rights architecture. However, considering the Dereci case, the readiness of the Court to protect the rights of European citizens is doubtful. Moreover, if the Court had the intention to follow AG Mengozzi's Opinion on Dereci, the inclusion of fundamental rights in the substance of EU citizenship rights seems to be excluded. This paper examines the relation between EU citizenship and EU fundamental rights and argues that if the Court is truly willing to protect the substance of EU citizenship rights, it has to overturn its weakly-grounded decision in Dereci and to include fundamental rights in the doctrine established by Ruiz Zambrano. After it has been outlined why such an approach would, in contrast to the Court's argument in Dereci, be completely in line with Ruiz Zambrano, the potential effects of such an approach will be sketched. Since the exclusionary nature of citizenship conflicts with the all-encompassing notion of fundamental rights, it is submitted that acknowledging fundamental rights as part of the substance of EU citizenship rights eventually requires that the Court makes EU fundamental rights applicable independently of any other European rights



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