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Borderlands: Expanding Boundaries, Governance, and Power in the European Union's Relations with North Africa and the Middle East


Challenging the notion of Fortress Europe , the research investigates relations between the European Union and its southern periphery through the concept of borderlands . The concept emphasises the disaggregation of the triple function of borders demarcating state territory, authority, and national identity inherent in the Westphalian model of statehood. This process is most visible in (although not limited to) Europe, where integration has led to supranational areas of sovereignty, an internal market, a common currency, and a zone of free movement of people, each with a different territorial span. The project explores the complex and differentiated process by which the EU extends its unbundled functional and legal borders to the so-called southern Mediterranean (North Africa and parts of the Middle East), thereby transforming it into borderlands . They connect the European core with the periphery through various legal and functional border regimes, governance patterns, and the selective outsourcing of some EU border control duties. The overarching questions informing this research is whether, first, the borderland policies of the EU, described by some as a neo-medieval empire, is a functional consequence of the specific integration model pursued inside the EU, a matter of foreign policy choice or a local manifestation of a broader global phenomenon. Second, the project addresses the question of power dynamics that underwrite borderland governance, presuming a growing leverage of third country governments resulting from their co-optation as gatekeepers. Thus, while adopting an innovative approach, the project will enhance our understanding of EU-Mediterranean relations while also addressing crucial theoretical questions in international relations.

Call for proposal

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Host institution

EU contribution
€ 1 353 920,00
50014 Fiesole

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Centro (IT) Toscana Firenze
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Serena Scarselli (Ms.)
Principal investigator
Raffaella Alessandra Del Sarto (Dr.)
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)