The Ambiguous Relationship Between the EU and its Internal Borders

The European Citizen’s Point of View

  • Aude Bouveresse University of Strasbourg





The free movement of EU citizens within the Union reveals the ambiguous relationship between the EU and borders. While the functioning of the internal market is essentially based on freedom of movement and implies the elimination of borders as barriers to trade, the freedom of movement of the European citizen remains defined largely within the conceptual framework of borders, since nationality is a prime requirement for European citizenship. Inside the EU, as this article highlights, borders are necessary and problematic at same time. The Court has played with the concept of borders to address these ambiguities with a view to deepening integration. The conclusion is that if the Court has been able to effectively remove obstacles related to internal borders concerning the free movement of goods and the movement of active economic persons, such has not been the case for the free movement of European citizens, economically inactive. It follows from the division of competences and the case law of the European judges that solidarity remains intrinsically linked to nationality and therefore inevitably leads to the re-establishment of borders and the separation of peoples. This demonstrates the resistance of the “paradigm of a European market citizenship”. By revaluing nationality in the context of the enjoyment of the rights linked to citizenship, the European Court of Justice could hamper the integration process by renationalising the individual and establishing new borders.