«A thesis submitted to the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of ...»
To reconstruct the discourse on borders in the policy areas under investigation, I need to read European Commission texts in each of these areas and aim to reconstruct the common themes, objects and categories 176 around which the bordering practice/s in each one of them converge. This allows me to present my interpretation of the socially constructed meaning of inclusion/exclusion implied by the discourse and elaborate on the rules created by this discourse through the activities it enables or outlaws. Building on this, I advance my interpretation of the ways in which borders are configured within the discourse in question. My expectation is that the documents of the Commission create an impression of the decreased significance of borders as a result of the process of European integration. This is because the topics on which these discourses are explicit are issues such as common policies, measures for overcoming national differences, various unification activities. Furthermore, this configuration of the decreased significance of borders is likely to be captured by different terms that employ the word “European”, thus implying the emergence of a common space in the EU.
Therefore, overall the articulations in these policies contribute to for example, enabling easier movement within the EU as a result of abolishing intra-EU border-controls, accepting professional qualifications and diplomas from a member state in all other members and so forth, which effectively decreases the salience of borders.
In conducting discourse analysis one of the crucial questions is which documents the analysis is based on; in my case - which Commission texts exactly am I going to read? Why exactly these ones and not others? Answering these questions requires looking back at the aims of the research because ultimately the reasons for choosing the specific selection of documents lie in the goals of this study. It sets out to critically engage with the Commission discourses on EU borders and to investigate the Commission contribution to their construction and reconstruction. Therefore, in order to be able to analyse these issues I need to gather information about the following: what are Commission discourses on borders; what are the Commission policies and priorities 176 These are suggested in Jean Carabine, „Unmarried Motherhood 1830-1990: a Genealogical Analysis‟ in Margaret Wetherell, Stephanie Taylor, Simeon Yates (eds), Discourse as Data – a Guide for Analysis (London: Sage, 2001), pp. 267-310, p. 281 70 regarding EU borders; how do Commission proposals configure the Union‟s borders;
what new rules do these proposals establish; how do the discourses in each of the policy areas construct and reconstruct borders?
In order to be able to collect data about the priorities of the Commission in the relevant policy areas I examine the following main kinds of documents: Green and White Papers,177 and European Council and Presidency Conclusions (such as these at Tampere, Lisbon, Thessaloniki). These help me define the scope of the objectives and priorities, thus giving me ideas about which the areas where I can expect high Commission activity are, and focusing my search. Importantly, these documents form the initial phases of the decision-making process of the EU. It is in these types of documents that overall objectives or new initiatives are formulated and aired. Thus, these texts allow me not only to attain information about the policy priorities but also to get a glimpse of the areas that are becoming prominent on the agenda, and hence, where formal legislative action can be expected. This is of crucial importance, given that one of the aims of the study is to engage critically with the role of the Commission in the construction and reconstruction of EU‟s borders. In that respect it is important to have an idea of the contents of Council and Presidency Conclusion even though they are not Commission documents. If Green and White Papers expose the thinking of the Commission in the initial stages of decision-making, the Conclusions formalise the accepted goals by making them official priorities for the Union. Therefore, by engaging with all these documents I can analyse any concurrences and differences between the thinking of the Commission and the future policy directions agreed upon at EU-level.
Nevertheless, overall the study has had a limited ability to investigate the specific origins of border-related policy proposals (i.e. are they promoted by the Commission, by the European Parliament or by the Council). Partly this is due to the fact that such investigation requires a genealogical analysis, which goes well beyond the primary aim of the research. Furthermore, as I argued in the previous section, in tune with post-structuralist understandings, in practice things are always intertextual. This 177 The former aim at gathering different opinions on a specific policy issue, while the latter contain proposals for Community action in a specific area and are used as vehicles for its development. A list of the Commission‟s Green Papers is available at http://europa.eu/documents/comm/green_papers/index_en.htm, accessed on 5.01.2008 and of the Commission‟s White Papers – at http://europa.eu/documents/comm/white_papers/index_en.htm, accessed on 5.01.2008 71 means that it is difficult to pinpoint one source of origin for a particular idea or policy proposal. Thus, in the Commission discourse the various visions will be expressed.
Despite that, the institutional structure of the EU allows making assumptions about the general trends of the positions on particular proposals that the main EU actors are likely to adopt as a result of their self-interests. These help to moderate to a large extent this limitation and allow presenting a plausible account of the origins of specific policy proposals that are examined in the research.
The preliminary reading will point out the major areas where I need to collect Commission documents in order to reconstruct the discourse of the Commission. The bulk of the documents I collected are Commission Communications178 (COM179 and SEC180 documents). I complete further my basis of documents through including speeches by Commission officials on issues relevant to the studied policy areas. 181 These texts include all the major policy proposals and positions of the Commission and therefore are a good way of making sure I have not missed out something important in the process of reconstructing the discourse.
As this overview of the documents on which I base my analysis shows, overall, I have aimed to refrain as much as possible from using non-Commission issued documents. Despite that, I have had to include European Council and Presidency Conclusions that have issued landmark decisions and objectives in the policy areas under consideration. The reason for sticking to this more narrow definition of Commission discourse (rather than one that looks into Commission discourse expressed in documents issued by other EU institutions, for example) is that it has the advantage of providing a clear boundary for delimiting the discourse I am studying. Thus, I achieve a higher consistency and a better comparability between the documents 178 These can be accessed through EUR-Lex, the portal to European Union law, available at http://eurlex.europa.eu/en/index.htm, accessed on 5.01.2008 179 The COM documents are the proposed legislation and other Commission Communications to the Council and/ or other institutions and their preparatory papers.
180 The SEC documents are internal documents associated with the decision-making process and the general operation of Commission departments.
181 For example the speeches of the Commission‟s officials on the ENP are available at http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/speeches_en.htm, accessed on 5.12.2007 and on the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice - at http://europa.eu/rapid/searchResultAction.do?search=OK&query=justice&username=PROF&advanced= 0&sortBy=date&beginDate=01/01/1999&guiLanguage=en, accessed on 5.12.2007. A database, where Commission speeches are stored for all EU policy areas is Rapid Press Release, available at http://europa.eu/rapid/, accessed on 19.05.2009 72 considered. At the same time, as a result of the inter-penetration of texts, I will nevertheless still be able to trace some of the non-Commission influences in its documents. In order to get an idea about the ability of the Commission to attain adoption of the policy proposals it issues, I look into their status in the decision-making machinery of the EU.182 These steps in reconstructing the Commission discourse allow me to get a complete picture of the issues considered not only in terms of their content but also in relation to their adoption, thus ensuring accurate analysis. Once I have executed this process of reconstruction, I am in a position to provide my interpretation of the actions these proposals enable, those that become impossible, as well as of how these discourses configure borders.
Ultimately, the information gathered about the discourse of the European Commission in the policy areas allows me to analyse its contribution to the reconstruction of EU borders. Furthermore, the documents I collect in the different policy areas are going to be comparable to each other because all types of documents I intend to collect and examine are available for all the policy areas in question, i.e.
Communications and speeches and landmark Council decisions that have defined the objectives. Therefore, I build my analysis on the basis of the same types of Commission documents.
The main Commission–produced documents that are not included in this study (these are Registers, which offer access to the internal documents – Commission Meetings, Work Programmes, C documents, Committee Deliberations, Expert Groups, Application of Community Law, Codecision; General Publications; Audiovisual Service183) are related either to the internal working of the Commission or are aimed at the General Public. The former have been excluded because the information they are anticipated to provide will give more inside knowledge into the day-to-day run of this institution and I do not consider this as pertinent to the aim of the present study. The latter are an inherent part of the reconstruction of borders by the Commission because they are aimed at the wider public inside and outside the EU and as such can facilitate the process of normalisation of the discourses. However, the goal of critically 182 The status of policy proposals can be tracked at http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/apcnet.cfm?CL=en, accessed on 16. 04. 2009. This is the portal that is monitoring the decision-making process between EU institutions.
183 http://europa.eu/documents/comm/index_en.htm, accessed on 3.12.2007. On the same web site links provide access to more details on each of these types of documents.
73 examining the way Commission articulations configure EU borders can be performed satisfactorily without detailed analysis of these documents for two main reasons. Firstly, the bordering configurations in these documents will follow the configurations articulated in the Commission documents that I examine because the information disseminated to the general public is intended to give the ordinary citizen easily understandable information about the EU. Secondly, by analysing the bordering configurations in speeches of Commission officials I have already included aspects of how the Commission relates to the general public. Therefore detailed analysis of Commission documents aimed at the general public goes beyond the scope of this research.
2.4.3. Data Analysis The materials collected during the empirical research are analysed in two main ways. Firstly, a critical reading of the discourses of the Commission is advanced using the strategy of double reading, which: “… allows to bring to the surface features of discourse which normally are allowed to remain submerged.” 184 Building on this, secondly, I analyse the Commission contribution to the reconstruction of the EU‟s borders. More specifically on the second point, after the second reading of the Commission documents is performed, I am concerned with whether there is still only a trend towards decreased significance of borders in the discourse in question. A finding that points to the construction and/or reconstruction of EU borders through Commission discourses will clearly indicate ambiguous configurations of borders in these articulations. Crucially, this is contrary to the trend Commission documents to be explicit only about the diminished importance of borders. It will show the current limitations for the decreased salience of borders, which lead to the construction and reconstruction of borders. Furthermore, it will make possible evaluations of the reasons why these limitations occur. Given the complex decision-making structure of the EU and intertextuality it is of interest for me to analyse to what extent the borders configured in the Commission discourse are actually actively promoted by the Commission itself. In order to do this, I pay particular attention to the articulations concerning the current decision-making system of the EU and pose the question does 184 Chris Brown, „‟Turtles All the Way Down‟: Anti-Foundationalism, Critical Theory and International Relations‟, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 23: 2 (1994), pp. 213-236, p. 222 74 the Commission support it or does it advocate change in it. Also, I trace whether the Commission has been successful in securing adoption of its proposals. Taken together these analyses will allow me to provide a detailed account of how the Commission has contributed to the ambiguous process of border transformation under integration in the EU.
One of the aims of this study will be to show how despite the rhetoric of the European Commission about integration (which traditionally is associated with decreased significance of borders), a more careful consideration of the relevant texts and their interrelation with other policies involved in the same processes brings to the fore issues that effectively construct borders (albeit of different kinds from traditional state ones). The latter usually go unnoticed and unacknowledged by the discourses of the Commission but the method of double reading allows bringing them to the fore by critically engaging with the relevant discourses.