‘Fortress Europe’

Borders and the power of information in the European Union

Authored by: Juliet Lodge

Routledge Handbook of European Politics

Print publication date:  January  2015
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415626750
eBook ISBN: 9781315755830
Adobe ISBN: 9781317628361


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‘Fortress Europe’ is a misnomer. Often used pejoratively, it implies that the EU is inward-looking and protectionist in terms of trade and immigration. This chapter shows how the idea of ‘Fortress Europe’ has taken on a new dimension as e-governance and efforts to combat cyber- and crossborder crime have assumed prominence on the EU’s agenda over the past decade. It discusses how the concepts of ‘border’ and ‘border management’ have taken on new meaning and given rise to whole new areas of policy – including those loosely termed ‘e-policies’ – that few dreamt of when the Single Market was in development. First, it is important to understand that the concept of ‘border’ has a traditional territorial, geopolitically defined meaning that permeates much of the debate about managing borders, especially with regard to the EU’s common external geopolitical borders. However, ‘border’ can also be understood in terms of virtual borders or, more accurately, access points to online services. Because access itself is increasingly designed to be facilitated by digital tokens, the wider debate in the EU (as elsewhere) has become rather muddled and, predictably, various directorates in the EU Commission and different government departments have failed to develop a coherent, strategic overview, with the result that contradictions abound. In the EU, for example, one institution concentrated on realizing an e-payments area, whilst others focused on research, e-passports and the multiple technical and political problems associated with facilitating cross-border information exchanges, the remote management of territorial borders (for example using drones) and externalized pre-border checks (as seen at Eurostar terminals and consular offices in third states). This chapter will briefly outline the policy evolution with respect to e-borders used to manage flows of people as well as e-borders conceived as access control to online services.

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