EU citizenship and the European Court of Justice's ‘stone-by-stone’ approach

Koen Lenaerts


Examining the seminal judgment of the European Court of Justice (the ‘ECJ’) in the Ruiz Zambrano case (C‑34/09,EU:C:2011:124) and its progeny, this paper is to illustrate the fact that in hard cases of constitutional importance the ECJ follows an incremental approach. This means ,in essence, that the ECJ does not take ‘longjumps’ when expounding the rationale underpinning the solution given to novel questions of constitutional importance. On the contrary, the persuasiveness of its argumentative discourse is built up progressively, i.e., ‘stone-by-stone’.


EU citizenship; Article 20 TFEU; Article 21 TFEU; Directive 2004/38; Directive2003/86; ‘the effect of depriving citizens of the Union of the genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights conferred by virtue of their status as citizens of the Union’

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