New EU-funded research network will research ‘New European Borderlands’

SPERI is part of a recently launched research network of nine European universities that will address the impact of recent developments in the EU’s and its member states’ ‘bordering practices’, how these practices are framed, and how these developments interact with the EU’s identity as an international actor.

The new BordEUr network has been awarded funded by the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Network Program and will run for three years between 1 September 2019 – 31 August 2022. The research network will be coordinated by the Central European University and involves researchers from nine universities across Europe. A full summary of the project can be found below.

Dr Owen Parker, Research Fellow at SPERI and Senior Lecturer in European Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations, and Dr Alexandra Prodromidou, SPERI Associate Fellow and Lecturer in International Political Economy at the University of Sheffield-CITY College Thessaloniki, will lead work streams within the new network.

Partner Institutions:

  • Center for European Neighborhood Studies at the Central European University, Hungary (Project Coordinator)
  • Goce Delcev University (Department of International Relations and European Law), Macedonia
  • GRITIM-UPF, Catalonia, Spain
  • Middle East Technical University, Turkey
  •  South East European Research Centre, Greece
  • University of Bologna, Italy
  • University of National and World Economy (Department of International Relations), Bulgaria
  • SPERI, University of Sheffield, UK
  • University of Vienna, Austria
The BordEUr team in December 2019 at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

Jean Monnet ‘New European Borderlands’ Network summary:

The 2015 “migration crisis” put unprecedented pressure on the European Union’s (EU) institutions. The then current migration regime failed, and the uncontrolled inflow of migrants and refugees showed the inherent problems of the Schengen system all too clearly, leading to political tension among member states, with some opting for open door policies, and others securitizing migration as a threat to national security. Some even erected border fences and introduced border control mechanisms within the Schengen Zone. Meanwhile, the EU itself is continuing to externalize its borders by creating “new borderlands” in North Africa, in Turkey and the Balkans. Researchers of the BordEUr network believe that the European Union and member states’ quest for secure borders in the wake of the so-called migration crisis can serve as an illustration of more global trends. We propose to situate current problems the Union is facing in the multi-faceted global crisis of capitalism, democracy, and the middle classes, with a special focus on European right-wing populism as a pushback against the European project. New and re-emerging borders, writ large, will serve as central concepts of BordEUr’s analysis.

The project will answer the following research questions:

1) What meaning do the European Union, its member states and partner states assign to the border and to EU bordering policies?

2) To what extent does the sense of a European community represent a framework that can be used to avoid the increasing risk of a collapse of the perspective of integration; a risk that is fueled by populist politics which manipulate the false nexus “migrants’ invasions/threat to national identity/security?

3) What does the current European politics of borders mean in terms of the EU’s identity as an international humanitarian actor? How could a perceived gap between promoted identity and policy practice affect the relationship between the Union and its partners?