February 25

The EU Citizenship Directive: A Commentary (2nd edition)

by Elspeth Guild, Steve Peers, and Jonathan Tomkin

review by

Dr Diego Acosta

This book is the second edition of the well-known commentary that Professors Guild, Peers and Jonathan Tomkin had produced in 2014.

The approach and structure chosen for this second edition mimics the previous one and follows a comprehensive article-by-article commentary including a detailed analysis of its case law (p. 1).

Considering the number of important rulings that the Court of Justice has produced in the last five years on, for example, same-sex spouses (Coman, C-673/16) or the Zambrano (C-34/09) saga (see among others Rendón Marín, C-165/14; KA, C-82/16), the revised version represents the essential point of reference for all those (lawyers, judges, policy-makers, scholars and students) working with the Directive, as well as the estimated 17 million EU citizens who live in a Member State other than that of their nationality, as well as their family members. The Directive also regulates the legal status of nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) states, namely Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Each of the chapters follows the same structure. After a first analysis of the function, historical development, interrelationship with other provisions and reference to other rules, the authors delve into a complete scrutiny article by article, including its case law. Each is then concluded with an evaluation section where the authors provide remarks on how jurisprudence, including by the European Court of Human Rights, could solve some of its pending problems, such as reverse discrimination (see for example, pp. 86-88).

There are however three aspects to take into account. First, the book analyses the Citizens’ Rights Directive 2004/38, consciously leaving aside other important legislative measures that also affect the status of thousands of EU nationals (p. 15). This includes for instance the amended Posted Workers Directive 2018/957. This is relevant because, according to some authors, long-term labour mobility under the Posted Workers Directive is more prevalent for some EU citizens in certain industries than the free-movement regime under the Citizens’ Rights Directive itself.*

Second, Brexit is given due consideration in this work. Indeed, Chapter 8 contains an analysis of the first withdrawal agreement as it stood in March 2019. However, the revised version of the agreement could not be included when the book went to print and thus this needs to be consulted in later updates that the authors themselves have produced.**

Third, the book is not intended to offer a theoretical engagement with the substantive scholarship on EU citizenship or its critical reading of certain of its aspects. Thus, other works offering such an approach can be used as companions to this book for those interested in academic discussions on the constitutional implications of EU citizenship.***

In conclusion, this detailed, comprehensive and clarifying analysis of the Citizens’ Rights Directive and each of its articles is the most important reference on this piece of legislation. As such, it is destined to be in the libraries of all those working in the area of EU citizenship, whether in academia or legal practice.


*T. Novitz and A. Andrijasevic, ‘Reform of the Posting of Workers Regime: An Assessment of the Practical Impact of Unfree Labour Relations’, Journal of Common Market Studies, forthcoming.

**S. Peers, Analysis 4 of the revised Brexit withdrawal agreement: citizens’ rights, 19 October 2019, available at: http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/2019/10/analysis-4-of-revised-brexit-withdrawal.html

***See among many other works: D. Kochenov (ed.), EU Citizenship and Federalism. The Role of Rights, Cambridge University Press, 2017; S. Mantu, P. Minderhoud and E. Guild (eds.), EU Citizenship and Free Movement Rights. Taking Supranational Citizenship Seriously, Brill, Leiden, forthcoming 2020.


Dr Diego Acosta is Professor of European and Migration Law, University of Bristol.


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