TransJudFare: Transnationalization and the Judicialization of Welfare

Case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has significantly broadened the eligibility of noneconomically active European Union (EU) nationals to non-contributory welfare services, including study grants, of their host state. This opening process has been characterized as potentially corrosive to the nationally organized welfare state, which will become a ‘magnet’ for the European poor, and thus provoked fierce criticism. However, when the project started in 2015, no systematic study of the actual impact of this salient ECJ case law on member states’ welfare states existed. To fill this gap the TransJudFare project has, therefore, systematically studied the real effects of this ECJ case law on member states’ welfare systems. For this purpose, teams of political scientists and lawyers in Austria, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands mapped political, administrative and judicial responses to these challenges in five western EU member states (Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK). A wide array of data from different sources (official documents, newspaper articles, expert interviews, and statistical data) were collected and analysed, using mainly qualitative methods such as process tracing. 


With this data, the TransJudFare project demonstrated in more than 20 publications that the five EU member states under investigation were all coping, albeit with different means and to varying degrees, with the challenges of transnationalization of citizenship and welfare rights as well as of the judicialization of politics in the European Union (EU). All countries were able to shield their national welfare systems from opening pressures stemming from ECJ case law. This has wide implications for future discussions about the reconciliation of national welfare and European integration (e.g. debates about Social Europe or free movement within the EU), and we expect to have a large and lasting impact on this discussion.

Research Team

Prof. S.K. Schmidt
University of Bremen

Prof. M. Blauberger
University of Salzburg

Prof. G.T. Davies
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Prof. D.S. Martinsen
University of Copenhagen