Justifying Control: EU Border Security and the Shifting Boundaries of Political Arrangement

Springer International Publishing
pp 221-238
Print: 978-3-319-17559-1 - Online: 978-3-319-17560-7


In recent years, EU border control activities have experienced a double condition of being constantly on trial and perpetually under scrutiny. Controversies unfold over the costs, feasibility and priorities of border control, the necessity and proportionality of existing, planned or proposed measures, the deadliness and challenges to fundamental rights and freedoms of border control practices. A constant flow of opinions, impact assessments, feasibility studies, activity reports and hearings address concerns related to budgetary discipline, practicality, political opportunity or fit with the core principles and values of the spirit and letter of EU law. While it is always possible to engage with these controversies by adopting an evaluative gaze, that is assessing the extent to which measures, initiatives or plans are reliably assessed and/or live up to their expected outcomes, this chapter argues that much can be gained by examining this double condition in terms of justification. Asking how, rather than whether, a given measure is justified shifts the discussion on EU borders and security more generally in two ways. First, it highlights the political work that mundane and proliferating policy practices such as impact assessments or feasibility studies do. It draws attention to the efforts put into building equivalence between a specific measure and broader practical repertoires of justification and legitimacy. Second, thinking with justification highlights the ways in which EU border control is not only about adopting the ‘right’ measure—the efficient, proportionate or acceptable measure—but also involves shifting the boundaries of what is considered justifiable.