'In this important contribution to the analysis and construction of European Union citizenship, Charlotte O'Brien provides her characteristic blend of rigorous legal scholarship and compelling social vision. She identifies challenging questions about the relationship between justice and vulnerability that should concern the shaping of law at all levels of governance.'
Professor Niamh Nic Shuibhne, University of Edinburgh
'Piercing the veil of well-known proclamations of “equality” and “non-discrimination”, in this intimate portrait of Union law O'Brien sounds a sobering wake up call. The Union, to the genuine surprise of some converted, is a powerful actor of injustice, failing the vulnerable Europeans at many a turn, blinded by its own proclaimed righteousness and goodness to be aware of the plight of those it lets down. The sooner we dispel the oxymoronic myth of a “market citizen” as a necessary tool of the uniquely benevolent EU internal market project, the sooner the process of healing the Union turning its back on the majority of Europeans can begin. This book is an important part of this beginning.'
Professor Dimitry Kochenov, University of Groningen
'Doctrinal mastery. Intellectual rigour. Conceptual depth. Empirical enrichment. O'Brien's landmark text offers its readers all of these qualities. But she also writes with a clarity and honesty of purpose that is an inspiration to her readers. Particularly at a time when certain political actors seek to vilify “expertise”, Unity in Adversity is a testament to the value of independent and critical academic research.'
Professor Michael Dougan, University of Liverpool
The EU is at a crossroads of constitution and conscience. Unity in Adversity argues that EU market citizenship is incompatible with a pursuit of social justice, because it contributes to the social exclusion of women and children, promotes a class-based conception of rights, and tolerates in-work poverty. The limitations of EU citizenship are clearest when EU nationals engage with national welfare systems, but this experience has been neglected in EU legal research.
Unity in Adversity draws upon the ground-breaking EU Rights Project, working first hand with EU nationals in the UK, providing advice and advocacy, and giving ethnographic insight into the process of navigating EU and UK welfare law. Its study of EU law in action is a radical new approach, and the case studies illustrate the political, legal and administrative obstacles to justice faced by EU nationals. Taken together, the strands demonstrate that 'equal treatment' for EU nationals is an illusion. The UK's welfare reforms directed at EU nationals are analysed as a programme of declaratory discrimination, and in light of the subsequent referendum, should be treated as a cautionary tale – both to the EU, to take social justice seriously, and to other Member States, to steer away from xenophobic law-making.
Shortlisted for the 2018 BBC Thinking Allowed Award for Ethnography.