«A thesis submitted to the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of ...»
Firstly, I have argued that Neo-functionalism as it currently stands provides only a detailed account of Commission contribution towards the configuration of the internal EU borders. This is an argument that is supported by the examples in the empirical chapters. As far as the external EU borders are concerned, Neo-functionalism anticipates that the Commission will favour the emergence of EU‟s external borders. Nevertheless, this theory does not explicitly engage with an in-depth analysis of how the Commission will express its preferences in practice. The present study allows addressing this shortcoming. As the analysis in the empirical chapters shows, there are several main ways in which the Commission has endorsed and facilitated the emergence of salient EU external borders.
Firstly, this comes about due to the Commission accepting the underlying assumptions on which EU policies are based. I demonstrated this trend in Chapters Three and Six.
Secondly, the external EU borders emerge as a result of the utilisation of spillover in the Commission discourse. Chapters Three and Four of this study provided illustration of this.
Thirdly, EU‟s external identity borders are articulated in the Commission discourse by enunciating particular understandings of the “Self” and the “Other”. Chapters Four, Five and Six illustrate this.
264 Furthermore, importantly, these different patterns of the construction of the EU‟s external border by the Commission discourse provide examples of different contribution of the Commission to the process. The acceptance of the underlying policy assumptions can be attributed to the inability of the Commission to overcome the preferences of other powerful institutions, such as the Council of Ministers, on how the process of integration should be conducted. As such, it is plausible that the Commission was not the driving factor behind the establishment of the EU external borders. However, the last two examples are more clearly related to the Commission performing some of its core functions. Therefore, arguably the external borders these articulations configure come about as a direct consequence of the actions of the Commission. In these cases, the Commission support is most likely due to the possibilities of increasing its own powers and prerogatives.
Secondly, I have provided a conceptualisation of the ways in which various types of borders in the EU are created. In Chapter Two I developed a general matrix of the main ways in which different types of borders can be configured and I demonstrated how it applies to the various policy areas interrogated in this study. Furthermore, building on the differentiation between two main types of internal EU borders, I have classified the internal borders reconstructed through the discourses of the European Commission in the fields of border controls, free movement of people and social policy. This contributes to pinpointing the on-going struggle between intergovernmental and supranational solutions in the process of redrawing EU‟s borders. When the former is paramount, national borders between the member states persist, thus prolonging the reign of Westphalian thinking. When the latter is dominant, important borders beyond the national ones of the member states emerge, which creates a new spatial organisation of various relations.
Thirdly, I have addressed the role of the Commission in the transcendence, construction and reconstruction of EU borders, thus relating to the debates about its contribution to the process of integration. I argued that the Commission occupies a strategic position within the institutional structure of the EU, which is crucial because this allows it to be able to sway the decision-making process in its preferred direction. At the same time, I looked into the limitations it faces in promoting its preferred outcomes.
265 A major consequence of the findings of this thesis is that academic studies need to be much more attentive and critical to the ways in which borders are actually configured in policy documents. As the strategy of double reading, which I employed in this research has revealed, actors involved in decision-making may tend to articulate things in a specific way and to advance particular representations. These in turn encourage particular perceptions.
When scholars, as well as other people, do not engage critically with thus constructed perceptions, there is a real danger of accepting them at face value. I refer to this process as a danger because it is through unquestioned acceptance of the messages conveyed that important dynamics that are taking place are not interrogated. In turn, this implicitly supports the assumptions the documents in question make, which contributes to the “normalisation” of the practices involved. When that happens, processes that are in fact constructed by people through their social interactions start to be taken as a given, creating the impression that there is nothing that can be done about it.
For example, in the case of current inclusion/ exclusion dynamics in the EU that inform the particular ways in which borders are constructed, a central assumption, supported by the discourse of the Commission has been that the abolition of border controls between the member states necessitates stronger borders at the outer edges of the Union. As the Chapter on Border Controls has demonstrated, this assumption has been widely utilised (including by the Commission) in various discourses related to Shengen to create the current system that regulates the flow of people at the external borders of the EU. However, some scholars have argued that borders between the current Union member states have always been permeable and therefore, the abolition of internal border controls in the EU makes less difference than it is widely held to.2 Such a claim puts back in the limelight the issues of why, then, current policies on border controls in the EU take the shape they do, allowing to interrogate who they benefit, who loses from them, what alternative arrangements can be made. Therefore, critical engagements with the ways in which borders are currently configured are indispensable because they allow developing more 2 Jef Huysmans, „The European Union and Securitization of Migration‟, Journal of Common Market Studies, 38: 6 (2000), pp. 751-777 266 sophisticated grounds for policy-making and implementation and making it more difficult for policy-makers to ignore some important outcomes of their undertakings.
In a similar vein, the critical engagement with the ways in which Commission documents configure borders, has allowed me to successfully address the issue that is of central concern here, namely to examine the configuration of EU and European borders by Commission discourse. As this study shows, contrary to the perception suggested by the Commission documents, the Commission has much more ambiguous ways of configuring borders, which lead to border constructions and reconstructions parallel with the above process of border transcendence. Despite successfully addressing this central question, the research has come across issues that it has not been able to tackle in detail but which are in one way or another related to the question of configuring borders under the process of integration. Namely, future studies can engage in pursuing the question of when certain bordering articulations were advanced, where they were advanced, which were the actors behind them, and how these bordering articulations developed time-wise. Another direction in which the interrogation of this study can be continued is to investigate how the Commission‟s preferred positions on an issue are negotiated and supported in the wider decision-making machine of the EU and how they eventually develop into concrete policies. Also, a more empirically rich account can be provided to the claim that the Commission tends to promote the construction of the EU‟s external borders because this leads to an increase in its powers and prerogatives. In terms of policy-specific future research, it is of paramount importance to follow up on the ways in which the “new” member states of the EU are included into the ESM. This is the case because if the Commission assertion that there is a unique European way for organising societal relations is to hold true, becoming part of this European identity may prove to be a focal point for establishing a genuine enlarged common European area. From the field of social policy this common space may expand to other fields, thus having a significant impact on the transcendence of current internal borders in the EU.
However, in tune with the central argument of this study even such a development will result in configuring borders at the external edges of the Union, which is an inevitability that even supranational institutions cannot escape. Therefore, especially in the
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