Repository logo

Free Movement A Case Study in State Autonomy and EU Control

No Thumbnail Available


Book chapter

Change log


Fraser Butlin, Sarah 


The area of free movement presents an interesting case study of, on the one hand, autonomy by the member states and, on the other hand, its erosion as the EU tries to exert its influence and control over the operation of a key pillar of the single market project. These tensions and schisms will be explored through two stories: first, the development of free movement of workers under Article 45 TFEU and second, the development of the EU’s approach to social welfare benefits. We wish to argue that these two stories show a historic and continued contestation between autonomy asserted by the member states, especially concerning social welfare benefits, and control asserted by the EU. In the case of the UK, that tension became so great that it ultimately resulted in the dramatic departure of the second largest member state from the EU, as the narrative took hold that, as a result of free movement, the UK was unable to ‘control its own borders’.



Free Movement A Case Study in State Autonomy and EU Control


free movement; workers; social security; Court of Justice; EU legislature

Is Part Of

Autonomy without Collapse

Book type

Edited volume


Oxford University Press


Economic and Social Research Council (ES/R000824/1)