The European Union (EU) member states and a handful of affiliated countries share the world’s most extensive border management regime. The concept of border management, usually exclusively associated with the physical control over borders and the flow of goods and persons through ports of entry, also deals with the management of immigration and of the mitigation of cross-border threats including criminal activity and terrorism.
Since the onset of the European migrant crisis from the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the outbreak of the Syrian civil war and the collapse of Libya (both in 2011), there have been some dramatic shifts in the border management policies of some EU member states. This has brought into question whether it is possible to turn back the clock, given the comparative drop in migration rates since the height of the crisis in 2015, or whether the changes instituted by a range of member states, and being considered by others, will fundamentally change the manner in which borders are managed in Europe.
An article for Homeland Security Affairs (the journal of the NPS Center for Homeland Defense and Security)by Nadav Morag explores existing European policies and structures. Morag looks at these policies and structures as well as recent policy changes in select areas within each of the three aspects of border management in order to understand some of the fundamental aspects of Europe’s evolving approach to managing and safeguarding its internal and external borders. More specifically, the report examines issues pertaining to the status of the Schengen area and control of external borders with non-EU/Schengen countries, the management of immigration within the European Union and its member states, and the EU role in combating cross-border threats.
From the perspective of American policymakers, one reason to analyze homeland security-related issues (such as border security) overseas is the opportunity to explore alternative policy approaches to solving roughly comparable types of problems. This may help U.S. policymakers avoid replicating mistakes made overseas and avoid having to “reinvent the wheel” when policy ideas implemented overseas prove fruitful. Ideally, this research will also stimulate thought about potential policy directions and/or areas of exploration in the ongoing quest to improve American border security and immigration policies.