The migrations of the year 2015 and the slow and inadequate responses of the European Union has led to a political crisis in the European Union. The institutions and policies of the European Border and Migration Regime that have evolved since the Schengen Treaties of 1985 and 1990 and the inauguration of the Common European Asylum System with the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) were not able to formulate, let alone to implement, a timely and appropriate answer. We argue that despite the current public perception of a “refugee crisis”, the EU is indeed dealing with a deep and systemic crisis of its migration and border policies, which is rooted less in the migrations of 2015, but date back to the collapse of the Mediterranean border regime in the wake of the Arab Spring 2011 and the ensuing controversies around issues such as the perceived partiality of the refugee distribution mechanism of the Dublin system as well as the mounting public outcry given the repeated instances of tragedies in the Mediterranean, epitomised by the Mare Nostrum operation launched by the Italian state in late 2013. Currently, we observe heterogeneous approaches to solving this crisis. Not all of them may be compatible with the Schengen system as the re-institution of national border controls is often at their core. Other suggestions involve a —at times— radical move towards a deepened europeanisation of migration and border policies, such as the creation of a European Asylum Office and a European Border and Coast Guard. Based on ethnographic research in the EU’s South-East, we will discuss these developments around the ongoing dynamics of de- and restabilisation of Schengen.
Cuadernos Europeos de Deusto, Núm. 56,2017