The Contentious Politics of Hospitality: Intra‐EU Mobility and Social Rights

Published date01 November 2016
Date01 November 2016
The Contentious Politics of Hospitality:
Intra-EU Mobility and Social Rights
Maurizio Ferrera*
Abstract: Intra-Eu mobility has become increasingly contested. Despite empirical evidence
showing that migrants are not a burden for the receiving countries, a growing number of voters
think that nationals should have priority in terms of jobs and welfare. In a realist perspective,
this nativistturn cannot be ignored, as it might undermine the very idea of EU citizenship.
While nondiscrimination, as enshrined in the Treaties, should certainly remain the rst order
principle to defend free movement from a legal and normative point of view, in the present
predicament it might be reasonable to complement it with the less demanding principle of
hospitality. Practically, this would mean to give back to Member States a modicum of
autonomy in ltering the access to social benets for inactive or non-resident persons.
I Introduction
The intra-EU mobility of workers/persons, and in particular the latters access to the so-
cial protection systems of the receiving countries, has become a highly contentious and
polarising issue at both the na tional and supranational levels. Its normative basis, i.e.
the principle of non-discrimination, has lost its symbolic appeal and political purchase
among vast sectors of public opinion, feeding Eurosceptic orientations. The already
preoccupying scenario of a Fortress Europe, closed vis-à-vis the outside, risks being su-
perseded by an even more alarming prospect, i.e. the EUs regress into a fortress of for-
tresses, crossed by internal fences hindering free movement and barring access to
national social protection schemes. Such prospect is alarming in cultural and economic
terms, but even more so in political terms. No territorial collectivityand denitely not
a liberal democratic onecan survive and prosper without internal openness,
underpinned by solidaristic norms, institutions and dispositions.
Solidarity is a contested concept, but its prime meaning is relatively straightforward: it
connotes a specic trait of social collectivities, that is, a high degree of fusionor internal
unity, cohesion and commonality of purpose (the noun solidaritycomes from the Latin
solidus,arm and compact body). In this basic, realistsense, solidarity must be consid-
eredrst and foremostas a political good, i.e. a state of affairs which serves the key
purpose of facilitating social cooperation, containing conicts and sustaining generalised
compliance within a spatially demarcated community. Just like security and peace,
organised solidarity is a necessary condition for a stable and effective functioning ofboth
the market and democracy and for mediating their inevitable tensions. The current polit-
ical predicament of the EU can partly be explained by the weak institutionalisation of a
pan-European solidarity, capable of buttressing the solidity(and thus the persistence
and stability) of the Union as such.
* Professore Ordinario,Universitá degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
European LawJournal, Vol. 22, No. 6, November 2016, pp.791805.
© 2017 John Wiley& Sons Ltd. 9600 Garsington Road,Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK
and 350 Main Street,Malden, MA 02148, USA

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