New Publication: Framing immobility: Schengen governance in times of pandemics

By Sarah Wolff


The uncoordinated closing down of internal borders, lock-downs and quarantines have limited the freedom of movement in Europe as never before. How have EU institutions framed this unprecedented immobility and what lessons can be drawn for Schengen as a highly politicized instrument of governance? Adopting a social constructivist approach, we study how between March and July 2020, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council/European Council have framed the debate around immobility in Europe. This article shows that the emergence of the public health frame has mostly been linked by EU Member States to traditional notions of internal security, demonstrating continuity with prior crises. Appeals to a functional-solidarity frame involving more coordination and non-discrimination were made by the European Commission, mainstream Members of European Parliament (MEPs) as well as some countries such as France and Germany. Justified by the public health emergency and compensated by innovative solutions such as the ‘green lanes’ – proving the adaptability of the EU -, the reintroduction of internal border controls has nonetheless been normalised, raising questions about the future of transnational solidarity.

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