The Right of Free Movement and the Borderlands in Europe: Perceptions, Practices and Perspectives in the Context of the Refugee Crisis and the Terrorist Attacks in Paris

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för etnologi

Abstract: This thesis examines how the right of free movement and the borders are perceived and practiced by Europeans, and how they affect the everyday lives of Europeans in the context of the current refugee crisis and Paris attacks. It claims that EU, EEA, CH and the Schengen area constitute a cultural construction within Europe based on inclusion and exclusion, belonging and citizenship. The freedom of movement and the Schengen Agreement form mobility capital enabling to move freely within the territories of the nations where they function, although currently the Schengen Agreement does not function fully as it used to before the refugee crisis and Paris attacks, determining the changing role of passport. The thesis enables to understand how the public policy influences on the lives of the Europeans and helps to reveal whether the public policy on the freedom of movement and the boundaries correspond to the needs of the Europeans in terms of opportunities and challenges. The methodology of the research is mainly based on the qualitative interviewing of Europeans and analysis of documents, although observations, autoethnography and visual data were also used as supplementary research tools. According to the research, the Europeans are very mobile due to mobility capital they have regardless of social status. However, the right of free movement and the Schengen Agreement enable not only a lifestyle migration, but they may also lead to security issues, as well as leak of human capital resulting in brain drain from some European regions to brain gain to economically more attractive European nations. In the context of the current developments in Europe the Europeans prioritize security embodied in border controls, although the passport-free circulation within the Schengen area is preferred. Finally, the right of free movement and the Schengen Agreement are closely interrelated in the cross-border regions. Although the Europeans have a right to work in other countries within the frames of freedom of movement, the current border controls determined by the refugee crisis and the terrorist attacks make their everyday commuting lives more time consuming, complicated and stressful in the cross-border regions.

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