CORDIS - EU research results

The EU Migration/Refugee crisis and border security: a contribution to theory and practice through the case of Hungarian-Serb border policing practices

Project description

From the local to the international level: perceptions of border security practices

When migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015, the Hungarian government built a barbwire fence along the Hungarian-Serb border to prevent them from entering EU territory. This fence has been featured extensively in the media. However, not all stakeholders (border police, local policing organisations, border communities, local and national politicians, and local, national and international media) shared the same perceptions of the situation. The EU-funded SECURE BORDERS project aims to reflect on borders and their securitising practices. First, it will analyse how communities manage security issues locally. Second, it will explore how policymakers manage local security concerns. Third, it will consider the mistrust that can arise between communities at the local, national, regional and international levels.


In 2015 more than 1 million refugees and migrants entered Europe largely from conflict-ridden states such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Hungarian government single-handedly decided to stop the migration by building a barbwire wall along the Hungarian-Serb border. Many observers agree that building the fence was primarily a domestic political act to help the Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party Fidesz to gain the far-right vote in support of his and his party’s re-election. Nonetheless, his landslide victory, predictably won on a populist ticket rallying against migrants and Muslims in April 2018, together with media and NGO reports on the treatment of migrants and refugees seemed to suggest to the outside world that the Hungarians were predominantly right-leaning, anti-migrant people who lack humanitarian compassion and are thus different from other Europeans. As my preliminary findings of exploratory research at the Hungarian-Serb border in summer 2018 suggest, however, the situation is much more nuanced. There is a substantial gap between the border police, local policing organisations, the local border communities, on the one hand, and local and national politicians, and the international media perception of the events and the Hungarian migration/refugee crisis and border security management, on the other. At the theoretical level, this raises a larger issue in security studies: how does securitizing work in practice? Taking securitization practices seriously through focusing on everyday performances of security, this project aims to analyse (1) how communities manage security concerns locally (especially when these concerns are ignored in the national or international spheres); (2) how local security concerns are mobilised elsewhere for political gains; and (3) how mistrust between communities is generated locally, nationally and internationally in order to explain the de-facto re-militarised EU border.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
SY23 3BF Aberystwyth
United Kingdom

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Wales West Wales and The Valleys South West Wales
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 224 933,76