efforts that explore the construction of personhood and subjectivities in EU law,
this article seeks to shed a different
light on this debate by focusing on the contingent and internal transformation of the homo economicus as the
anthropological foundation constituting the economic subject of EU free movement law. When treating the homo
economicus not as a constant, but as a dynamic concept which is subject to transformations in knowledge, economic
discourse in particular, one is able to shift the focus of the question.
Instead of asking whether or not mobility rights
move away from their mobilisation of the market citizen as an actor in the European project, one can ask how its inter-
nally mutable subject, i.e. homo economicus, is reflected in the government of EU free movement.
It will be argued that the economic personhood of the European mover that appears after the establishment of
Union citizenship and its progressive interpretation by the ECJ, no longer conforms to the homo economicus ascribed
to the early “market citizen”. Instead, it resonates much more strongly with the “new”homo economicus that was
constructed during a fundamental mutation in economic liberalism, i.e. with the shift from classical to neoliberal
economics. Briefly put, this entailed a shift in the government of EU free movement from “freeing up”the ability of
the worker as a relatively passive subject tied to external economic mechanisms to the targeting of the individual
him/herself as a responsible, active bearer of economic capability or “human capital”, whereby past socio‐economic
conduct and prospective economic activity serve as the thresholds for the entitlement to rights. This thesis does
not suggest, however, that EU free movement law has become entirely “neoliberal”or would not be driven by social
objectives, but merely that its economic rationality is increasingly based on a neoliberal anthropology of the human
being. Accordingly, the next section sets the stage by describing the transformation of the homo economicus in liberal
economics in connection to labour, mobility and welfare. Section 3 reveals an image of the mobile “worker”as the
partner of laissez‐faire in the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic
Community. Arguing that the “new”homo economicus of EU free movement law becomes especially visible at the
intersection of mobility and the national welfare state, section 4 describes the progressive citizenship case law of
the ECJ with respect to employment, student and social assistance benefits.
2|MOBILITY, WELFARE AND THE (NEO)LIBERAL SUBJECT OF
Before delving into (the history of) EU law in the next sections, this section first succinctly sketches the broader trans-
formation of the homo economicus in liberal government. After discussing the development of liberal economics in
Law Review, 68 and F. Wollenschläger, ‘A New Fundamental Freedom beyond Market Integration: Union Citizenship and its Dynamics
for Shifting the Economic Paradigm of European Integration’(2011) 17 European Law Journal, 1. On the other hand, we find scholars
who observe a continuance of the market citizen—for example, M. Everson, ‘The Legacy of the Market Citizen’, in J. Shaw and G. More
(eds.), New Legal Dynamics of European Union (Clarendon Press, 1995) 73; N. Shuibhne, ‘The Resilience of EU Market Citizenship’
(2010) 47 Common Market Law Review, 1597; M. Everson, ‘European Citizenship and the Disillusion of the Common Man’, in R. Nickel
(ed.), Conflict of Laws and Laws of Conflict in Europe and Beyond (Center for European Studies, University of Oslo, 2009), Arena Report
1/09; and C. O'Brien, ‘I Trade, Therefore I Am: Legal Personhoods in the European Union’(2013) 50 Common Market Law Review,
1643. For one critical review—amongst many—of the post‐Dano case law, C. O'Brien, ‘Civis Capitalist Sum: Class as the New Guiding
Principle of EU Free Movement Rights’(2016) 53 Common Market Law Review, 937.
See the various contributions in L. Azoulai, S. Barbou des Places and E. Pataut (eds.), Const ructing the Person in EU Law: Rights, Roles,
Identities (Hart Publishing, 2016). P. Neuvonen, Equal Citizenship and Its Limits in EU Law: We The Burden? (Hart Publishing, 2016).
Most contributions present the homo economicus as a constant. A result of this conception is that the development of Union citizen-
ship is analysed as either a “move away from”or a continuance of the “market citizen”, thereby neglecting the possibility that its active
part, i.e. the homo economicus, is a mutable and contingent construct qua subject of government, hence bearing the potential to recon-
stitute the “market citizen”.
This approach distinguishes this article from, for example, the recently published contribution by Sankaari and Frerichs in this journal,
who trace the evolutionary path of free movement through the lens of commodification, decommodification and recommodificati on.
S. Sankaari and S. Frerichs, ‘From Resource to Burden: Rescaling Solidarity with Strangers in the Single Market’(2016) 22 European
Law Journal, 806.