«A thesis submitted to the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of ...»
In the first three case studies, social policy, border controls and free movement of people, border transcendence builds upon the aims of developing a functioning internal market. As I pointed out, there is a continuous trend in Commission discourse to link the achievement of the single market with the necessity of undertaking various actions in the fields of social policy, border controls or free movement of people. This is evidence of the Commission employing functional spillover in its efforts towards promoting further integration. The concrete articulation that prompted a move towards the decreased significance of internal borders is the goal of “creating an area without internal frontiers”.
258 In the field of border controls after the 1999 Tampere Council was added another articulation that presupposes diminished importance of internal borders, the formulation of the aim of creating in the EU “an area of freedom, security and justice”. In social policy, the construction of a common area is conveyed through references to “a European Model of Society/ European Social Model”, which imply that despite any differences that may exist between the member states, there is nevertheless a stronger underlying commonality between them. As far as the ENP is concerned, one of the core ideas of the policy is to “avoid the emergence of new dividing lines” after the latest enlargement of the EU through “enhancing the relations” with the partner countries. Again, this creates the perception that this policy will diminish the salience of borders and contribute to the construction of a common space between the EU and its neighbouring countries.
In the empirical chapters of the research, using the strategy of double reading, I interrogated these bordering articulations and showed that the ways in which they configure borders are not as straightforward as it seems initially. A critical engagement shows that in each and every case the efforts towards establishing common areas still lead to the emergence of borders both at the outer edges of the EU and within it. 1 With the notable exception of the external borders of the Union in the field of border controls, this construction and reconstruction of borders is not openly acknowledged in the discourse of the Commission. This emergence of new borders is a result of articulations that construct new regimes for entering, moving and residing within the territory of the EU; new categories of people that have different rights under these regimes; that refer to particular groups of people/ social arrangements as being different, inferior, threatening to the Union, thus enunciating them as the “Other”.
For example, a construction and reconstruction of borders recurring in Commission discourse throughout the Chapters on Border Controls and Free movement of People, is the emergence of the category “EU citizens” who have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Union. These people are in effect juxtaposed in the Commission 1 In that respect the ENP is a special case. Due to it being directed towards the external relations of the EU, it does not reconstruct internal borders in the Union. Nevertheless, as the analysis in Chapter Six has shown, it is implicated in the reconfiguration of European borders parallel with the reconstruction of the EU‟s external borders.
259 documents to non-EU citizens (TCNs), who are still very likely to face restrictions when entering the Union or trying to relocate within it. Nevertheless, as the analysis in these chapters shows, the Commission has consistently been promoting the rights for TCNs. It has advanced a position in favour of establishing a regime for the movement of people (irrespective of whether they are EU citizens or TCNs) within the EU along the lines of a movement within a national territory. As my analysis in Chapters Three and Four shows these attempts have been at best partially successful and have resulted in the reconstruction of the internal borders in the Union. This is the case because often the Commission has faced strong opposition by the Council and the member states to its positions, which led to the ambiguous border configurations of the Commission discourse in these fields.
Despite this common cause for the construction and reconstruction of borders through the Commission discourse, there are some important differences in the particular contribution of the Commission across the policy areas. As Chapters Three and Four illustrate, when internal EU borders are concerned, the Commission has been more successful in overcoming opposition towards greater inclusiveness to TCNs in the first pillar. As I showed in Chapter Four, the Commission has persistently tried to find a way to transform the acquis so that TCNs, just as EU citizens, face fewer obstacles when moving within the EU for work purposes. Therefore, in this policy area, as exemplified by the Blue Card initiative, the Commission has employed cultivated spillover and has acted as a policy entrepreneur by being pro-active and trying to set the trend. In distinction to this, the reconstruction of internal borders in the Commission discourse in the field of border controls (which prior to 2001 was in the third pillar) is a result of the inability of the Commission to overcome the limitations set to it by other EU actors. Thus, in this field, the Commission is playing by the rules established by other actors in the integration process. In a similar way the construction of internal borders in the social policy area is a result mainly of the limitations for the Commission to secure adherence of all the member states to its interpretation of the European Model of Society/ European Social Model.
In distinction to the Commission efforts to further decrease the internal borders in the EU, when its external borders are concerned, it has contributed to their emergence. As directly related to the issues of the Union‟s external borders, the ENP and border controls 260 are the primary examples of this. As I argued in Chapters Three and Six, in these policy areas the Commission has overall accepted the assumptions on which each of the policies are based instead of adopting a more critical stance, which could have allowed it to articulate policies that decrease the salience of the EU‟s external borders. As I argued in Chapter Six, the ENP is especially well placed in this regard because the whole idea of the policy is to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines. This provides the Commission with a good starting position for advancing an alternative reading of various beliefs and practices, which if altered, can contribute substantially to decreasing the perception of a rigid distinction between the Enlarged EU and its neighbours.
Thus, the case of free movement of people is a good illustration of the limits to border transcendence in the discourse of the Commission as a result of the interactions taking place during the process of renegotiating the bordering practices in the EU. The cases of border controls and the ENP, on the other hand, are examples of the inherent inability to transcend borders without the simultaneous necessity to construct borders elsewhere. Taken together, these two provide empirical examples of how in practise the Commission discourse constructs and reconstructs the internal and external EU borders.
Another finding of the study is that in different areas, varying types of borders are configured and reconfigured. The analysis of the case studies of this research shows that often the articulations configure predominantly one particular type of border. For example, the discourse on border controls is concerned predominantly with territorial borders, that on social policy deals primarily with identity borders, while the free movement of people one puts the accent on functional borders. In the ENP, the analysis shows that it is mainly territorial and identity borders that are being configured in the discourse of the European Commission.
These findings contribute to the current academic debates both theoretically and empirically. Empirically, firstly I have demonstrated in detail how the processes of border transcendence and border construction/reconstruction appear simultaneously. Therefore, contrary to the approach taken by the overwhelming majority of current studies on EU borders that focus on only one aspect of border transformations (transcendence/ construction), I argue that these should always be approached as the two sides of the same 261 coin. Such an understanding provides a much more comprehensive picture of the on-going developments on the ground.
Therefore, secondly, my study highlights the major factors and the current limitations leading to border construction/ re-construction through Commission discourses.
These were demonstrated in the empirical chapters for all the main types of borders that I have focused on. In tune with the arguments of discourse theorists and post-strucutralists, it is not possible to articulate a perception of the “Self” without juxtaposing it to a particular “Other/s”. This was well illustrated especially in the Chapters on the ENP and Social Policy, where the analysis of the Commission documents revealed a number of “Others” against which the identity of the EU is articulated. As the discussion in Chapter Five showed, the major “Other” articulated in the Commission discourse is the US. In the ENP the main “Other” articulated are the partner countries because they emerge from Commission articulations as inferior, peoples that need to be taught the EU way of doing things. Related to this articulation of the “Other” is also the perception of the “Self”. As the analysis in the case studies has shown, the Commission documents articulate the EU as a world leader, especially in the economy, as an ordered place or as a society based on the values of social justice. These articulations contribute to the construction/ reconstruction of identity borders. For their part territorial and functional borders are configured mainly as a result of the construction of two categories of people, EU citizens and TCNs that are covered by different regimes for entering, moving and residing within the territory of the Union. The Chapters on Border Controls and Free Movement of People provide good illustration of these kinds of border configurations. As I discussed at length in Chapters Three and Four, EU citizens are entitled to move freely on the territory of the Union, while the regimes for entering into the EU and residing there legally severely restrict this possibility for TCNs.
These examples ultimately show that in the territorial world we inhabit today, the Commission discourse does not advance an understanding that can overcome the prevailing territorial logic of organising different kinds of interactions. As a result of the two limitations in abolishing borders, Commission discourse contributes to the configuration of territorial, functional and identity borders. As the analysis in Chapters Three to Six shows, 262 this is demonstrated by the emergence of new divisions at the external edges of the Union and by the reconstruction of internal borders within it. Importantly, as far as the reconstruction of internal borders is concerned, as Chapters Four and Five show, the Commission in fact supports their transcendence, which is evident primarily from the Blue Card initiative and the efforts towards including the UK in the Agreement on Social Policy in the first half of the 1990s. Therefore, in these cases it is the constraints the Commission faces within the EU decision-making system that limit the actual achievement of the decreased significance of borders. This is not the case, however, with external EU borders, where Chapters Three and Six show the concurrence of Commission articulations with the prevailing logic in these policy areas. This is evidence that unless it is placed on a global scale any integration efforts are likely to lead to the emergence of some borders at some level.
Thirdly, the project through its detailed examination of a wide range of Commission documents provides new angle of analysis under which particular details become more obvious. For example, the origins of the ENP in the European Security Strategy give an insight into why the policy is inherently contradictory in regards to its articulations about the partner countries and the detailed examination of the social policy discourse shows the underlying similarities between the two Models in regards to their configuration of borders.
Thus, these realities at the borders of/ in the EU point to two important practical conclusions. Firstly, there is a necessity to examine critically the formulations and policy goals of EU institutions. As the example of the ENP demonstrates especially well, sometimes there is a discrepancy between the stated objectives in the official documents and the assumptions guiding the measures undertaken. Sometimes such a mismatch can have negative results on the achievement of these same aims. Therefore, what is required is evaluating critically whether despite the language and the overall presumed direction of a policy the underlying assumptions that inform decision-making and actions allow the effective attainment of the stated goals. Because if they do not until action is undertaken to address this issue, the declared policy aims will not be achieved, thus, prolonging the negative effects that prompted the development of the policy in the first place. Secondly, it is necessary to be more sensitive to the fact that very often decreasing the significance of 263 borders is a process that can take a lot of time and resources. Therefore, very often the legal inclusion or entry into the EU in a way may represent only the first step towards border transcendence. Such an argument is highlighted by the findings of the Chapter on Social Policy that there is a danger that despite the stated support and necessity to ensure the inclusion of the “new” EU member states into the European Social Model, in practice this is still highly problematic. However, the successful achievement of this goal is paramount because otherwise the perception that the “new” member states are not properly European will strive, thus pointing to the continuing existence of dividing lines.
These empirical contributions relate back to some core theoretical debates in Political Science and Integration Studies. I have engaged with questions such as what are borders, how should they be studied, what is integration, or what is the Commission role in it, in order to develop my analytical framework. In that respect, the present study makes several contributions on a theoretical level.