The EU and Its Sub-Self Others: The Struggle Against Disintegration in the Context of the ‘Migration Crisis’

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Julia Simon, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, Germany


    In today´s Europe, the representation of migration is clearly dominanted by the Member States´ narrative of the ‘migration crisis’ and the nationally framed sovereignty discourse it entails. Having had divisive effects on societies and gained salience in elections, the issue of migration has currently become the crystallization point for integration and disintegration of the European Union (EU). Yet, while largely reproducing the threatening nature of uncontrolled inward migration, the European Commission and Parliament put into question key elements of this simplified narrative. By throwing light on the (politico-territorially fragmenting and socially corrosive effects of) deficient, dysfunctional, underperforming, ill-equipped national systems and the uncooperative, unilateral, irresponsible and unsolidary Member State responses to the initial challenge, they destabilize the dominant, disintegrative interpretive pattern of the ´migration crisis` and represent further integration (and related transfers of competencies, responsibilities and authority) as the only functional, effective, sustainable, appropriate and inherently necessary solution for the protection of common external borders and the maintenance of internal order and community. Representing the criticized shortcomings in border and migration management to be inherent to the model of the modern nation-state – and constrasting it with the EU´s identity – the institutions challenge exclusive national sovereignty claims while replicating exclusionary Westphalian knowledge practices and subject formation on EU level. The application of Foucauldian discourse analysis to the institutions´ migration discourse(s) since 2011 renders visible the EU´s triangle of modern subject formation practices vis-à-vis ´the migrants` and the Member States. It provides evidence against the assumption of a permanently resolved, unproblematically hierarchized and uncontested layering of already fully constituted, separate and distinct identities of the EU and the Member States and thus against the underlying premature categorization of the EU as post-modern/post-Westphalian. In terms of EU integration theory, the findings furthermore point to a renewed relevance of the classical Mitrany problem.