Calls of Duty: Romanian Politicians’ Deontological Discursive Strategies for Securing Free Movement in the European Union


Saila Heinikoski

This article discusses how the right to free movement within the European Union is presented as a matter of obligation, a duty of the other EU member states, in the discourse of Romanian Presidents and Prime Ministers (2005–2015). An examination of speeches and other statements from these politicians illuminates Romanian political reactions during the period when Romania became an EU member state, and reflects perceptions of Europeanness and European agreements. These issues take on an additional contemporary significance in the context of the Brexit negotiations, and they also add to the broader debate on whether EU norms and obligations are seen as being both just and equally applied. By analysing different types of argumentative topoi, I examine the deontological (obligation-based) argumentation employed in the free movement context. Furthermore, I examine to what extent these arguments are invoked in support of the right to free movement and who this right applies to. I argue that for Romanian politicians, deontological free movement arguments are connected to other states’ compliance with European treaties and to demands for equal application of European rules without discrimination, or the delegation of responsibility to others. This manifested itself most frequently in the calls for the EU and its member states to do their duty by treating Romanians equally to other EU citizens.

Keywords: Romania, European Union, free movement, duty, deontology, fundamental rights