Judicialization of European Social Policy

Laurits Abildgaard Nielsen, Tobias Kjer Welander, Josefine Block Petersen & Ditte Juul Reder

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


This project report examines the European Court of Justice‟s influence on the development of European social policy, focusing on social benefits in relation to free movement. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to examine the EU Member States‟ opportunities to influence the common social policy, and the European Court of Justice's role in this process. Especially, the development of the power of the European Court of Justice is emphasized. The point of departure is the book European Social Policy – Between Fragmentation and Integration (1995) by Leibfried and Pierson, which addresses the common social policy of the European Union from the Treaty of Rome to 1995. The theories of Historical Institutionalism and Path Dependence are applied in order to track the development. Firstly, the analysis examines the development of social policy from the Treaty of Rome to the Maastricht Treaty. Secondly, the introduction of the Union Citizenship is explored to identify its implications on the free movement, and the citizens‟ options for receiving social benefits in Member States than their home state. Lastly, the implementation and consequences of the Directive 2004/38/EC, also called the Citizenship Directive, is examined in the context of key events such as the Eastern Enlargement and the Eurozone crisis. Throughout the analysis, relevant ECJ cases, like the Sala and Vatsouras cases, are included in order to explain the impact of case law on the development of European social policy. The project report concludes that the Member States' options to make significant changes to the path of European social policy has been limited gradually. This is because the ECJ over time has gained a considerable authority on this policy area. This extent of power largely derives from vaguely formulated legislation, which has necessitated judicial creativity from the ECJ. Thus, a court-decision trap has been formed, which is exceedingly difficult for the Member States to escape.

UddannelserEU-studies, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato23 jun. 2014
VejledereJon Kvist


  • Spillover
  • Sala
  • Court-Decision Trap
  • European Social Policy
  • Path Dependence
  • Joint-Decision Trap
  • Judicialization of European Social Policy
  • Leibfried & Pierson
  • ECJ
  • Process Tracing