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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Schengen, then and now : the origins and crisis of the borderless European Union. Meyre, Maureen


The recent turmoil in Italy, resulting from the arrival of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and North African Region (MENAR) in the hope of constructing a better future in Europe has demonstrated the limitations of European immigration policies and the potential weakening of the promise of integration founded on the principles of liberal institutionalism. This research therefore aims at challenging the liberal institutionalist assumption which views commitment to borderless commerce and freedom of movement made in the Single European Act (SEA) and the Schengen Agreements as essential to maintaining stability in Europe. With regards to the challenges to European unity posed by the contemporary security and refugee crises the research adopts a neorealist paradigm to answer whether liberal perspectives still contribute to the understanding of the refugee crisis since its inception in 2010. The thesis employs a qualitative, interdisciplinary approach based on a small-n sample of the ‘Big Three’ – Germany, the United Kingdom and France – to get an appreciation of the political aspirations of policy-makers and develop an understanding of how key tendencies in public opinion affect the decisionmaking processes at the national level and the balance of power at the EU-level. Since this small-n approach cannot produce knowledge generalizable to the entire European Union (EU), the research will compensate by comparing the political cultures of the ‘Big Three’ because the way they have responded to the refugee crises can at least be expected to influence the policy options pondered by other member-states. In brief, the main purpose of this research is to yield valuable insights about how the refugee crisis provoked a crystallization of public opinion between Europhiles and Eurosceptics.

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