This article makes the case that the institutional construction of the EU integration process has furthered the cause of free movement, but is producing a backlash against the free mobility of persons because of its mechanistic dynamics. The backlash against free movement is manifesting in constraints on the social rights of mobile EU citizens, producing precarity. Because the EU has large numbers of people moving all the time, limiting their citizenship access means creating a vast underclass. People are able to move from place to place to work, but have different access to social rights depending on the value of their labour on the market, and on their relationship to the territory they are in. Their lack of rights makes them more desperate, so they accept less, which in turn worsens the labour market conditions for all workers. Greater limits on social citizenship rights, worsens the problem it intends to solve because it recommodifies the labour of those caught outside the charmed circle of social citizenship.
Keywords: Free movement, European integration, labour migration, European social rights, social citizenship, European Union citizenship.