By labelling EU citizenship as a “fundamental status”, the ECJ created an expectation that this status is stable and reliable. In the Tjebbes dispute, the Court was confronted with a challenge to these expectations, by having to rule on the acceptability of high precarity of EU citizenship. Unfortunately, the Court did not problematize national legislation creating this precarity, but instead clung to its earlier established strategy of developing the principle of proportionality. While clarification of the proportionality principle can be seen as the Tjebbes judgement’s main contribution to EU case law on citizenship, this contribution is fairly limited in light of the importance of issues raised by the Tjebbes case. Far more significant are the opportunities missed by the Court to critically assess national legislation that caused the precarity of EU citizenship, and undermined the latter’s claim to being a fundamental status.
Katja Swider, Legitimizing precarity of EU citizenship: Tjebbes, Common Market Law Review, 2020.