The Impossible Reconciliation between Integration and Equality in ECJ Case law Reductio ad absurdum

Due to the fundamentally different legal regimes for EU citizens and third-country nationals (TCNs) in EU law, each is usually studied and considered separately. However, it is sometimes important to bring them together in order to identify common approaches taken by the ECJ to both regimes. This is precisely the case when it comes to non-discrimination and equal treatment, as interpreted by the Court. This paper argues that through legal contortions, the concept of integration is increasingly used by the ECJ to completely remove all substance from equality and non-discrimination — the principles which are essential for granting rights to EU citizens or TCNs. This situation leads to the absurd outcome of equality being applied in a discriminatory way. Indeed, rights which are supposed to foster integration are only granted to certain integrated EU citizens and TCNs — the “good citizens to-be” — reducing equality to an empty shell and eroding trust in EU fundamental rights and values.