Bad omens, good omens: how does a restored Schengen look like?

Ouch! Schengen is in trouble…

On May 10, 2016, the museum created to celebrate the Schengen regime—evocatively located in the eponymous Luxemburg town by the river Moselle—was damaged by the collapse of one of its ceilings. Happening in the midst of the Syrian refugee crisis, it was an eerie omen of the regime’s current predicament. Indeed, an increasing number of cracks have begun to appear in what is still considered a central pillar of European integration. The breakdown of the Dublin Convention arrangement brought about by the sudden flow of Europe-bound migrants and the ensuing squabbles over the EU-led redistribution of asylum seekers across the continent, together with the reintroduction of internal controls, have rattled the regime’s foundations. A rising populist backlash against the idea of a “border-free Europe” has also brought into question the regime’s raison d’être and challenged its legitimacy.  In this context, it is not surprising that references to “the end of Schengen” have become ubiquitous.

Schengen restored…for now

In all this doom and gloom, finally some good news. After a year long hiatus, the Schengen museum has just reopened, and patrons are once again able to marvel at the regime’s accomplishments. Can the (real) Schengen follow the same path and return to its original shine? Well, maybe it can. After all, it is not the first time the Schengen regime has experienced periods of turmoil. In the early 1990s, for instance, the French government’s recalcitrance to fully lift internal controls at its borders stalled the regime’s  launch. While the possibility exists that the reinstatement of internal border controls within the Schengen area may become permanent, the European Commission and all member states have confirmed their commitment to lift these checks once the emergency period is over. Moreover, there are signs that the current crisis might actually lead to the regime’s further integration, as the recent upgrading of EU border agency Frontex suggests.

The strongest argument in support of the Schengen regime, however, is that even if it were to collapse, the need for European governments to address migratory pressures on Europe would not disappear. Unilateral actions such as the permanent reinstatement of national border controls might replicate the phenomenon of The Jungle, the notorious makeshift camp erected—and disbanded in October 2016—in the Northern French city of Calais. A Europe-wide “Jungle effect” would be politically untenable. It is therefore difficult to foresee a solution that does not involve at least a modicum of cooperation among European governments and some level of coordination from EU institutions. In other words, the most likely scenario in the case of the regime’s collapse is a Schengen redux. Such an arrangement would resemble the current one, but with its priorities reversed. The strengthening of external borders, hitherto considered a compensatory measure to balance the lifting of internal ones, would become the primary objective. A border-free Europe would remain a desirable outcome worth pursuing, but not if this meant compromising security. This shift of priorities is already apparent in the current post-crisis context; yet it is, at least on paper, only temporary and ad hoc. In the Schengen redux scenario outlined here, it would be become official and permanent.  This new arrangement would also be less institutionalised, with more emphasis on enhanced cooperation. One of this scenario’s downsides is that, since the lifting of internal borders is dependent on the strengthening of external ones, Schengen would compromise its primary source of legitimacy, namely its close connection with the European integration project. By diluting this historical tie, the political will to keep Schengen alive, even in the form of “Schengen-light,” would be seriously reduced.

European policymakers would certainly welcome a Schengen’s ‘restoration’ along the lines of the real-life entity the museum celebrates. They would also be pleased if the “renovations” they are currently considering work out well, and if they do not turn out to be mere temporary patches. If the latter turns out to be the case, another serious incident affecting the Schengen regime might offer them no choice but to demolish its entire structure[i].

***

 

[i] This post is a (revised and updated) excerpt from a chapter on EU border management that I wrote for  Routledge’s Handbook of Justice and Home Affairs Research (edited by Ariadna Ripoll Servent and Florian Trauner)

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

 

Mapping Schengen Art – Part VI

Here is the sixth 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.

White Crosses – Centre for Political Beauty (Art installation, 2014)

ZPS_Add_Exp-2

http://www.politicalbeauty.com/wall.html

Bordergame – National Theatre Wales (2014, live/online performance, role-play)

Bordergame by National Theatre Wales

http://nationaltheatrewales.org/bordergame

Borrando La Barda/Erasing the Border – Ana Teresa Fernandez (2001, visual performance)

EU-MAN – European Union Migrant Artists Network (1997)

EU- Man pic

http://www.eu-man.org/index.htm

And to conclude, some Schengen pop culinaria…

Schengen Restaurant – Delhi

The Indian Schengen

The Indian Schengen

Echoes of Europe in a review of Delhi’s Schengen restaurant:

“Schengen is unmissable, with its bright lights, all-white exterior… (…). Yet as you enter there is a nagging sense that there is way too much space. (…) Schengen is a massive space to fill…”

Mapping Schengen Art – Part V

Here is the fifth 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..

Isaac Julien – Western Union: Small Boats (The Leopard) (Video Installation, 2014)

Isaac Julien, “Western Union Series no. 1 (Cast No Shadow)”

http://www.isaacjulien.com/installations/smallboats

Mimmo Paladino – Porta di Lampedusa, Porta D’Europa (sculpture, 2008)

Paladino Lampedusa

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/africans-remembered-a-memorial-for-europe-s-lost-migrants-a-560218.html

Lena Malm, Sarah Green – Borderwork: A visual journey through periphery frontier regions (2014 photo-book)

jasilti_border-kannet-1070_large

http://www.jasilti.com/se/borderwork-bok

The Splendours and Miseries of the Schengen Zone (theatre performances, Riga, 2014)

Eurovision1

http://www.riga2014.org/eng/news/52867-the-splendours-and-miseries-of-the-schengen-zone-in-four-plays

Schengen Schege (band, Brussels)

Malik Nejmi  – “4160″ (video installation, 2014)

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/

 

Mapping Europe’s border art – part II

In my previous post I presented the project Schengen border art. What follows are some more examples of creative representations and performances of/about European frontiers. Enjoy!

 

There is no place – Lisl Ponger (2007, photographs)

There is no place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.grenzlinien.com/lisl-ponger.htm

 

Foreigners registration office – Ximena Aburto Felis (2007, video)

Foreign registration

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.endloop.org/videos.html

 

Blue Wall of Silence – Vibeke Jensen (2007, installation)

BWStuesday3s

 

 

 

http://www.thing.net/~vibekeie/bluewall_index.htm

 

Frontiers – You’ve reached Fortress Europe (2008, videogame)

Fortress Europe game

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.frontiers-game.com/

 

Schengen – Raphael Haroche (2006, song)

Rafael Schengen

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9UG-ejy6g8

Mapping Europe’s border art – a project

Art and other creative expressions about European borders have been a recurrent theme in this blog. So much so that I have decided to launch a new side project specifically dealing with this topic. After all, isn’t the end of the year a time for new resolutions? The tentative title of this endeveour is ‘Schengen border art’, and I am planning to develop it in the upcoming months. The goal is to map contemporary artistic performances whose main subject is the Old Continent’s frontiers, be it the ‘real’ boundary demarcations in the political, social, economic realms or their imagined projections, and in the people who cross, build or challenge them on a daily basis. These artistic performances can take different forms: from novels, poems and paintings to photographs, videos, sculptures, land art, simulations, installations, theatrical and other types of  ‘live’ performances. The number of these artistic expressions has mushroomed in recent years as a result of the growing interest in (and controversy over) Europe’s borders and their management. Below you will find a preview of this body of work. And stay tuned for updates on this project!

After Schengen – Ignacio Evangelista (2013)

th-17_pl-cz

http://ignacioevangelista.com/index.php?/seleccion-natural/work-in-progres-after-schengen/

 

Maritime Incidents – Heiko Schäfer (2008).

schaefer04-k

http://www.heikoschaefer.de/projects/start/maritime_incidents.html

 

Migration, Installation – Raul Gschrey (2010)

gschrey02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.grenzlinien.com/raul-gschrey.htm

 

Memorabilia – Sabina Shikhlinskaya (2012)

IMG_4967-n_small-200x300

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://transkaukazja.de/?p=333&lang=en

 

Contained Mobility – Ursula Biemann (2004)

Capture

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.geobodies.org/art-and-videos/contained-mobility

 

Fortress Europe – Asia dub foundation (2003)

Asia Dub foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMXKt99W61A

***

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!

The place to be: Schengen and Europe’s new grand tour

Schengen monumentThe way  ‘Schengen’ has captured the popular imagination around the world does not finish surprising me.   After all, not that long ago the term only referred to a sleepy little village along the river Moselle, known for its wine, and not  much else. And then came the omonimous (and  infamous) treaty that led the way to the creation of a border free Europe. This document, it should be noted, was signed on a cruise ship (the Princesse Marie Astrid), in itself quite an odd feat: how many treaties have been signed on water, and on the move? A rocking treaty indeed! From then, everything was downhill (or downstream, I should say).  Almost thirty years on, Schengen is not just still alive and kicking and an established element in Europe’s political landscape. It has also become part of the collective imaginary among European citizens (NB: that does not mean that everybody is happy with it. On the contrary, there has always been opposition to it, and, of late, this opposition has been mounting. Yet, even for its enemies, Schengen is a real and powerful presence to be reckoned  with. ) Interestingly, this apparently inexorable process of Schengen mythicization is spreading beyond Europe as well. Elsewhere in this blog. I have described this phenomenon, especially through some of its most unexpected expressions in popular culture (see, for instance, my musings on the recently opened Schengen restaurant in Petersburg). I thought I had seen it all. Instead, recently I came across something that pushes the boundaries of the Schengen mythical saga a step further. What I am referring to here is a video, posted  over the summer by a Taiwanese TV channel. The 5 minute clip is a colorful, postcard-like presentation of the town of Schengen as a tourist attraction for a Taiwanese audience. Now, it is true that East Asian international tourism has expanded exponentially in recent years, especially to Europe, and that this new wave of tourists have become more demanding (the classic tour of European capitals does not do it anymore…). Still, visiting a small village in the middle of nowhere?  Why  on earth? Well, as it happens, the main reason to visit is that…. it is the birthplace of the Schengen regime! Of course!  After all, what’s most exciting than visiting the monument that commemorates the agreement, located just outside the town, along the river Moselle (see pic) on a sunny (though the sun is not always guaranteed) European summer day?  Together with the Colosseum, the Tour Eiffel, Buckingham Palace, Schengen is the place to be. Or, at least, this what the TV is telling you. See it to believe it, in your next grand European tour!

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