Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The european union external border. an epistemological approach

Brie, Mircea and Horga, Ioan (2009): The european union external border. an epistemological approach. Published in: Revista Română de Geografie Politică (2009): pp. 15-31.

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The approach of the European Union external border has been made on the one hand through an analysis of the concepts of external border from the point of view of official documents and the concepts introduced by authors and specialists in the field; on the other hand, it has been made through an attempt to seize certain types of symbolic and ideological borders. As far as the first category is concerned, resorting to documents and legal regulations of European institutions has been highly important. We have also paid attention to conceptual approaches on the border, as well as on the relations “open – close”, “inclusive – exclusive”, or “soft – hard” border. For a long time, the concept of border has developed as an “intolerance axis” of nationalism and racism, of neighbours’ rejection. Beyond physical border, irrespective of the analysed conceptual approach, either within or outside the European Union border, we identify other types of “borders”. We consider these borders as symbolic and ideological considering that, more often than not, they are not palpable. From Europeanism to nationalism, from ethno-religious identities to social chasms, the wide range of approaches on symbolic and ideological borders may continue in the context of a new fight against terrorism or of the implementation of an effective European neighbourhood policy. The physical border at the external limit of the European Union may “open” in time. Yet other types of borders may exist between people and communities. For instance, immigrants live within the European Union; by preserving their identity, they can create a world that “refuses integration” due to the particularities they develop. Thus, we can identify a split that may take the form of a symbolic cultural border sometimes even turning into an “external” border. The wide range of epistemological concepts on the European Union external border can continue by analysing other typed of approaches. Beyond the great conceptual diversity, there is a clear-cut difference between the official border with different degrees of openness for non-community citizens and borders actually separating people despite the fact that they are not physical. Even if it has a political, economic, social, cultural, mental, religious, or ethnical support, the border is a space separating people and territories. From another perspective, “the border is identified to a contact area where social, economic, and cultural particularities of two countries intertwine”. The main conclusion of an investigation on concepts of external border is that the European Union has an external border that can be both stiff and flexible depending on the realities and challenges of the moment, on tensions or social and economic, political and legal openness, as well as on the complex internal reality of the European Union Member States.

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