Get access

Rights, Religion, Riviera, and Roma



The recent conflict between the French government and the EU over Roma motivates a more general examination of the EU's free mobility policies. The article describes three additional situations, access to land in desirable locations, access to universities, and access to health care, in which the EU's policies with respect to mobility can lead to Pareto sub-optimal outcomes. More generally, the article challenges the now widely held presumption, which underlies debates like these over rights, that there exists some set of universal human rights of which free movement is a member. A utilitarian theory of constitutional rights is offered instead. The article demonstrates that some constitutional rights, as those contained in the U.S. Bill of Rights, do fit the theory rather well. The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights are used as examples of universal human rights, which are difficult to defend under the theory proposed here, or under any other theory.