chapter  13
13 Pages

Ontological (in)security

The EU’s bordering dilemma and neighbourhood
WithJussi P. Laine, James W. Scott

As part of the wider debate interrogating ethical consequences of managing mobility through borders, questions related to everyday ontological security (i.e. the identity of the self) and disruptions of self-referential ways of seeing the world need to be taken seriously. Identitary bordering within the EU is not only fed by social media and populist discourses but is also part of intellectual and philosophical arguments that, for example, interpret liberal, humanitarian understandings of migration and idealistic notions of regional neighbourhood (e.g. with Ukraine, Russia and the South Mediterranean) as naïve and misguided. At the same time, despite all proclaimed intentions of re-setting its Neighbourhood agenda the EU appears to insist on ‘asymmetric conditionality’ and maintenance of the basic policy architecture that so far has failed to promote genuine partnerships. One reason for this is related to the maintenance of an EU identity and the fact that the EU’s ontological security is bound up in the continuity and perceived coherence of its policy frameworks. In order to transcend the ‘coherence trap’ and the selective visibility of social issues that it engenders, alternative understandings of Neighbourhood as a context for societal interaction – and not a merely an ‘objective’ policy – are required. While cross-border migration has become a fact of life in much if the EU, the discursive and practical securitisation of labour migration and other forms of cross-border mobility challenges basic principles of and prospects for regional cooperation. Understanding the EU as an integral part of any neighbourhood idea, joint engagement with socio-economic, cultural and group-specific concerns could help create a new self-narrative of EU actorness and contribute to a more tolerant and humane border policy.