Out now: Externalizing Migration Management in Europe and North America

A bit of self promotion here: Schengenizer has just published an edited volume on borders (what else?).  It’s about Europe of course, but North America as well (the two regions share a lot in terms of border policies). It focuses on a topic that I have often covered in this blog, namely the practice of ‘externalizing’ migration management  beyond a country’s borders. Surely to become a bedside reading fave… More details below.

Zaiotti externalizing book

EXTERNALIZING MIGRATION MANAGEMENT:EUROPE, NORTH AMERICA AND THE SPREAD OF ‘REMOTE CONTROL’ PRACTICES

(Routledge, 2016)

The extension of border controls beyond a country’s territory to regulate the flows of migrants before they arrive has become a popular and highly controversial policy practice. Today, remote control policies are more visible, complex and widespread than ever before, raising various ethical, political and legal issues for the governments promoting them.

The book examines the externalization of migration control from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective, focusing on ‘remote control’ initiatives in Europe and North America, with contributions from the fields of politics, sociology, law, geography, anthropology, and history. This book uses empirically rich analyses and compelling theoretical insights to trace the evolution of ‘remote control’ initiatives and assesses their impact and policy implications. It also explores competing theoretical models that might explain their emergence and diffusion. Individual chapters tackle some of the most puzzling questions underlying remote control policies, such as the reasons why governments adopt these policies and what might be their impact on migrants and other actors involved.

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Europe’s borders in 2015: a visual review

Undoubtedly this has been an annus horribilis for European borders. Here are some visual highlights of the last 12 months…

 

February 2015

The Other Exodus: Kosovars heading North

The other exodus - Kosovar heading north - February Getty

April 2015

Sunk: the deadliest drowning in the Mediterranean (so far)

Sinking off Malata -April Reuters

April 2015

Calais’ waves: migrants try to enter the Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel April

April 2015

All along the watchtower: Poland proposes border posts around Kalingrad 

Poalnd-Kalingrad watchtower proposal April- Reuters

April 2015

Born to be wild: Pro-Putin bikers stopped at Polish border

Pro puting bikers

June 2015

Terra nullius: migrants stranded at Italy-France border

migrants stranded -italy france border June Reuters

August 2015

Greek tragedies: migrants landing in Lesbos

To Lesbos  oct 2 2015 - Reuters

September 2015

Aylan

Aylan september 2

September 2015

No (Of)fence: migrants making their way trough Serbia-Hungary border

Hungary border fence september

September 2015

Tripping: foul play at the Hungarian border

Trippincamerwona sept Getti image

September 2015

The long march: migrants heading to Austria

HUngarain -Austrian border

 

September 2015

Guardian Angel(a): Germany opens the doors to migrants

 

Merl

November 2015

Suspended! Schengen area under pressure after Paris attacks

French italian border after Paris Nov

 

December 2015
Øresund blues: Sweden closes its border with Denmark

Sweden closes Oresund bridge with Denmark Dec- Getty

 

 

European borders in 2016?

Schengen future

Mapping Schengen Art – Part VII

Here is the seventh instalment of Schengen border art, an ongoing project in which I map the multifarious ways in which the Old Continent’ (real and imaginary) frontiers have been represented/performed/subverted.

 

Freedom Bus Project – Crossborder – International Network of History and Art (2015)

 

http://www.cross-border-network.eu/freedombus-home.php

 

Art Bridges Europe – AA.VV. (Itinerant multimedia project 2015)

 

https://artbridgeseurope.wordpress.com/

 

Residenzpflicht – The invisible borders – Philipp Kuebart (2012-14, exhibition)

berlin_DSE6182_fadenmodell

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.invisibleborders.de/main_en.html

 

The Mediterranean Tunnel  – MTO (street art, 2015)

Med tunnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.streetartnews.net/2015/07/the-mediterranean-tunnel-by-mto-in.html

 

Immigration –  Daniel Garcia (2015; mixed media)

Daniel-Garcia-Art-Immigration-Africa-Europe-Boats-Migration-Mediterranean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.danielgarciaart.com/immigrats/

 

Surprising Europe – African migration experiences (multimedia project ; 2013)

http://www.surprisingeurope.com/

 

Breaching Borders: Art, Migrants and the Metaphor of WasteSteyn and Stamselberg (book; 2014)
Breaching borders

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Society%20%20culture%20general/Cultural%20studies/Crosscultural%20Identities%20Art%20Migrants%20and%20the%20Metaphor%20of%20Waste.aspx?menuitem=%7B4BBEF2AD-7935-412A-ADEC-60A9409023F6%7D

 

Mediterranean nightmares and Freudian ships: how Europe externalizes its migration anxiety

EU interdiction

These days news outlets around the world are plastered with images of Southern European countries’ coastguard vessels intercepting rickety dinghies trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This practice is one of the most notable instances of what Aristide Zolberg calls ‘remote control’, or the array of policies and practices aimed at managing migratory flows before they reach a country’s territory. The externalization of migration management is not a new phenomenon, and not unique to Europe. The Unites States, after all, ‘invented’ the concept of interdiction in the high seas as way to stem the flow of Haitians, Cubans and other undesired migrants heading to El Norte. Yet there is something new about recent developments, both in terms of breath and scope. More problematically, these policies remain highly controversial, raising various ethical and legal issues for the governments that implement them.

All this raises the question: why are these policies so popular? The typical answer offered, the one favoured by politicians – is that it is a very efficient way to address the challenge of unwanted migration. If migrants cannot be managed after they reach their destination, why not contain them before they get there? These policies have also the great advantage of taking place outside the legal boundaries that constrain liberal democracies, thus relieving receiving countries from potential liabilities. They also allow to shift the burden to countries of origin and transit, which are invested with the sole responsibility (with only limited financial and logistical support) of dealing with unwanted migrants.

It is a very simple and appealing logic. It also seems very rational. In this sense it echoes what economists would call ‘externalization’, the idea that in order to maximize profits a business may  off load indirect costs to a third party. Whether this strategy is really effective when applied to the migration realm is, however, debatable. The cost of setting up remote control operations and supporting them with all the latest technological gizmos is ballooning. There is also no easy way to measure success. (More detections on the high sea? Or less?). Certainly, it raises serious issues of fairness. While they do receive some (meagre) compensation, sending and transit countries often do not really have a choice when confronted with their powerful counterparts’ requests. And opposition from various quarters (not just the usual suspects, such as the NGOs galaxy, but also greater sections of the European population) is mounting as well. I wonder, however, if the answer to the question of why these policies are so popular among policy-makers has not much to do with rational calculations, but something more subtle and thus less apparent. After all, economists are not the only ones talking about ‘externalization’. This concept has been famously explored by the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. From a Freudian perspective, externalization is an unconscious copying mechanism aimed at soothing the anxieties that engulf our daily lives. This process occurs when we find a target – be it a person or an object – in which we project our own characteristics, often negative ones. This mechanism has an important ‘positive’ function. Without the relief that it offers, we would soon reach a state of chronic neurosis. Its sides effects are equally nasty, however, since it can have deleterious consequences on the subjects of our projections, our relations with them and, more generally, on our public image. The silver lining in this phenomenon is that it is typically temporary and that it can be reversed when our level of anxiety gets under control. Whether this is possible when dealing with cases of collective externalization (that is, when it is not just an individual involved but an entire community) is another story. Envisioning Europe’s remote control saga through a psychoanalytic lens, however, points to the fact that politicians’ fascination with these highly toxic policies has more to do with ‘internal’ reasons than external ones. If Europe really wants to confront its uncomfortable relationship with migration, it might have to start by looking at itself in the mirror.

Waging the Euro-Russian ‘visa war’

download

It would be a bit of an understatement to say that relations between Russia and European governments have recently turned rather frosty. Indeed, we now typically hear references to a new ‘Cold War’, with Ukraine acting as battleground in this revamped East-West rivalry. Despite the militaristic undertones that characterise their relationship, the growing tensions between the two sides have not led to open conflict. Both, after all, would have a lot to lose from this confrontation. This state of affairs, however, does not mean that another type of war, one not involving tanks and missiles, is being waged. It is a war over mobility of people, fought through an unlikely weapon of mass disruption, namely visas.

European governments have in fact created a ‘black list’ of Russian public officials who are deemed personae non gratae and banned from entering the EU. European officials present this move as an initial warning shot before harsher measures (i.e. economic sanctions) are introduced as a means to put pressure on their Russian counterparts. Whether these threats of escalation will materialise is a matter of debate. It is no secret that Europeans are divided on what to do with Russia, and it is unlikely that they would irreparably antagonise their bilateral relations with Moscow. There is a good chance then that visas will remain Europe’s sole offensive instrument deployed in this conflict. Europe’s mighty arsenal may therefore largely consist of nothing more than a piece of paper.

Still, we should be careful not to underestimate the power of this ‘soft’ weapon. For the Russian elites (be they tycoons or well-connected public officials) access to Europe is a sensitive issue, given their enduring fascination and extensive (and often murky) economic dealings with the Old Continent. Europeans are well aware of this soft spot, and it is therefore not surprising that they are trying to take advantage of it as much they can.

There is another aspect of this conflict that often goes unnoticed, however. The visa issue is not a matter of concern only for Russian elites. The most recent statistics published by Frontex, the EU border agency, are revealing in this regard. As shown in Chart 1 below, by far the largest percentage of short-term uniform visas issued for Schengen countries are for individuals who are based in Russia, at 41.7 per cent of the total in 2012. The country with the next largest percentage of visas issued is Ukraine, at only 9 per cent of the total.

Chart 1: Percentage of short-term uniform visas issued for Schengen countries by country of issue/application (2012)

Visa 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: European Commission Directorate-General Home Affairs

In turn, as Chart 2 shows, the rejection rate for Russian applicants is among the smallest of the top 20 countries where visas are issued. Of those applications for a Schengen visa made in Russia in 2012, only 0.9 per cent were refused. For comparison, the country with the largest refusal rate, Algeria, had 26.7 per cent of applications being refused.

Chart 2: Visa refusal rate for top 20 countries where Schengen visas were issued in 2012

Visa refusals 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: European Commission Directorate-General Home Affairs

This being the case, a cynic might argue that an appealing alternative avenue to intensify the pressure on the Kremlin could well be making it harder for ordinary Russians to obtain the sought-after pass to Europe. And yet banning a rich source of income for a continent still recovering from a devastating crisis does not seem be such a smart move. The potential for such a move to backfire is undoubtedly high.

This route should not be completely dismissed, however. European officials could use the visa issue as a bargaining chip in their dealings with Russia. Indeed, something along these lines is already happening. One example of this is that the EU has refused to allow residents of Crimea to apply for visas via Russian institutions and instead will only provide visas to these citizens if they apply in Ukraine – despite the annexation of the peninsula by Russia. The Commission has justified this by stating that it will issue visas via Ukraine because “Crimea is a part of this country”.

European officials could also include in the mix a possible revival of the longstanding discussion over the lifting of visa requirements for Russian nationals, which even before the latest events in Ukraine had hit some road blocks. The EU suspended negotiations over a visa-free arrangement with Russia in March, after the Crimean crisis began. All things considered, the story of the EU-Russian visa war may just be getting under way.

Mapping Schengen Art – Part IV

Here is the fourth instalment of Schengen border artan ongoing project in which I try to map the multifarious ways in which the Old Continent’s (real and imaginary) frontiers have been represented/performed/subverted.

 

Blue in Morocco – Blue (2012, wall art)

Blue artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.madnesswall.com/2012/04/blu-in-morocco-new-wall-near-spanish.html

 

Caution border – AA.VV. (2009, installation)

Brussels - art 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.cultura21.net/karamoja/html/art/index.php

 

Without borders? – Kontekst and h.arta (2009, exhibition)

main-julius1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://workshopwithoutborders.wordpress.com/exhibition/

 

Undocumented Apparel – Julio Salgado (2012, illustrations)

uni_salgadoundocumentedapparel_wmain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://juliosalgadoart.bigcartel.com/

 

Schengen-Funk – Sprutbass (2013, music)

Sprutbass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.nofearofpop.net/blog/sprutbass-schengen-funk-melkeveien-remix

 

 

 

Mapping Europe’s border art – Part III

Here is the third instalment of Schengen border art, an ongoing project in which I try to map the multifarious ways in which the Old Continent’s (real and imaginary) frontiers have been represented/performed/subverted.

 

Schengen – Helmy Nouh (2013, film)

 

Schengen film

 

 

 

 

 

http://schengenfilm.com/

 

 

Migrants moving history: Narratives of diversity in Europe (2007, documentary)

 

Migrant Moving history

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.migrants-moving-history.org/documentary.htm

 

 

The list – Banu Cennetoglu (2006, installation)

 

banu_cennetoglu_listamsterdam

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://edno.bg/en/sofia-contemporary-2013/program/759

 

Permanent Waiting Room (2008, Installation)

 

Container

 

 

 

http://www.kitch.si/livingonaborder/node/7

 

Melilla – Flo Razowsky (2007, photos)

 

detentionyard_spain_border_ceti_melilla_1207_BW_small

 

 

http://www.lightstalkers.org/galleries/contact_sheet/9398

 

New Voices from Europe and Beyond’ – ARC Publications/ Literature Across Frontiers (Poetry Anthology Series)

 

Catalan-Poets-front-cover-cropped-493x273

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.lit-across-frontiers.org/activities-and-projects/project/new-voices-from-europe-and-beyond/

 

Jurmala’s ghosts and the Haunted Houses of Schengen

imagesHalloween. The time when the undead come to town. And when boarded up haunted houses start making eerie sounds and come alive. This year, however, not all of them seem that decrepit and spirited. Some in fact remain relatively quiet. These are the haunted houses of Schengen. Haunted, yet  alluring. Indeed, they can be quite luxurious.  They also do not appear in creepy places (So no Castles in Transylvania – not yet. at least, for Romania is still waiting to join Schengen…). On the contrary, they rise along swanky neighborhoods or exclusive beach resorts. Who lives there? Hmmm, good question. If we had an answer, these houses would not be haunted… A more pertinent question is: why would anybody in their sane mind be so foolish as to own such as a ghostly abode?  Wait a minute: it’s Schengen, stupid! Yes, what makes these architectural ghosts so attractive is that they happen to be in the most sought-after place on earth, namely Europe (Yes, some find the decadent Old Continent still attractive!). And if you are not a European citizen and require a visa to enter Eurodreamland, then why not buy your way into paradise by claiming a fictitious residence there? And here enters Jurmala, the Latvian resort city by the Baltic Sea. In 2010, the Latvian government introduced a program that allows foreign citizens to acquire residency in the country if they are willing to invest at least 71,000 euros. Minimum requirement to maintain residency: have a local address (an apartment in Jurmala sounds good!) and be there one day per year (yeah, the day the haunted houses of Schengen come alive!). And who cares about the sandy beaches (The Baltic sea is not the Caribbean after all). With a local residency in your pocket, the doors of Europe are open to you! No more hassle at EU embassies! No more dealing with these callous and ungrateful European officials! To good to be true. Indeed, in three years, around 7,000 ‘zombies’, mostly well-healed Russians, Chinese and Kazakhs, have taken advantage of this unique opportunity. But like everything else, good things are bound to come to an end. Latvia is now feeling a bit of pressure from its EU partners (should we blame them?) to close this loophole. And they might have another reason to do so. Purportedly, the rationale for this program is to encourage money flows into the country. Yet this money is often laundered and sent back to the ghost’s (ehmm, resident’s) country of origin. So much for Latvia’s gains! None should that surprised then if this year’s Halloween might seal the program’s fate: R.I.P the Haunted Houses of Schengen!

Europe’s anxiety spreads…

The Old Continent’s anxiety is spreading around its fringes. Once again, Schengen docet.

http://www.ibanet.org/Article/Detail.aspx?ArticleUid=d4cfa9d3-7035-48be-8971-063c4c8fa657

Schengen’s enlargement anxiety

The doom and gloom that currently pervades the Old (moribund?) Continent has rendered its citizens and politicians particularly jittery. It is not surprising, then, that even Schengen, often hailed as one of the most successful stories of European integration, is under strain. This tension has taken different forms. I have already discussed in this blog how of late some Schengen members (e.g. France) have repetedly moaned about the regime’s (alleged) shortcomings and called for its rehaul. This sense of unease has also affected the present debate about Schengen’s expansion. Romania and Bulgaria, who joined the EU in 2007, want to join Europe’s free travel area as well. Despite having met the necessary legal and technical requirements (at least according to the EU experts who have evaluated their bid), their membership is still pending. The main bone of contention is well known: the mistrust of some member states (the most vocal being the Netherlands) over the candidates’ capacity to uphold Schengen’s standards. Particularly problematic in their eyes is the persistent high levels of corruption and organized crime in the two South-Eastern European countries, phenomena which are believed to affect their ability to manage what would become de facto Europe’s borders.  The degree to which Romania and Bulgaria have made actual progress towards overcoming these problems is a matter of debate. Be it as it may, Bucharest and Sofia’s actual or perceived shortcomings regarding border control, coupled with a growing anti-EU and anti-freedom-of-movement sentiment in some Schengen members – have created an explosive mix that have rendered this crisis almost ‘inevitable’. The convergence of the two candidate countries’ reputation and Schengen members’ domestic politics is a plausible explanation for the current tensions in the Schengen regime, and one that it is shared by commentators and policy-makers alike. However, the bleak conclusion that that is typically inferred from this account, namely that the regime is entering into an inward looking phase of retrenchment, with limited prospects for future enlargements, is premature. The current dispute over the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, while certainly troublesome, is not unique in the history of the Schengen regime (Italy’s membership bid in the 1990s, for example, turned out to be a politically charged saga that lasted for almost a decade). On the contrary, this dispute can be considered as the latest symptomatic example of an enduring – and so far unsolved – tension within the regime between, on one hand, an in-built propensity to constantly expand in order to maintain the myth of Schengen as success story of European integration and, on the other, the fear of losing this very status because of overstretching, and, more generally, the fear of the unknown that the admission of new and untested members entails. This inherent tension is expressed in enlargement anxiety. As a psychological condition, anxiety is the result of high levels of uncertainty and overcommitment that an individual might face in his/her everyday life. One of the ways in which anxiety manifests itself is through resentment, which typically takes the form of overly critical language – including insults – and bullying against a designated scapegoat. From a psychological perspective, the function of resentment is to temporarily release in relatively controlled manner all, or part. of the tension affecting an individual. Seen in this light, the Romania and Bulgaria affairs is not just a cruel rite of passage, in which the two countries are enduring series of humiliating tests in order to become ‘proper’ members of the club, but also a sort of cathartic process in which current Schengen members, by vocally expressing their misgivings about the candidates, yet not rejecting their plight outright, assuage their fears and are persuaded to accept the new round of club’s expansion.  The Romanian and Bulgarian governments can only hope that this healing exercise quickly runs its course, so that Schengen’s chronic anxiety can be channeled against somebody else….

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