Effective Protection or Effective Combat: EU border control and North Africa

Martin Lemberg-Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


At the outset I introduce a dominant mode of analysing border
control, common in public discourses, namely the closed system perspective.
This is then juxtaposed to what I claim is a more promising conceptual
framework, namely that of borderscapes, which serves to highlight the
dynamic, relational and multilocal character of European border control.
This is then elaborated via a critical gaze at several attempts to defi ne
how European states have attempted to externalize migration control to
other countries in terms of supranational policy drives, ripple and mimicry
effects. This then facilitates a more nuanced understanding of externalization.
Since border control reterritorializes geographic spaces according
to the mobility of the people through them, it follows that the EU’s
border control, and with it also aspects of the union’s asylum policy, have
both biopolitical and geopolitical implications. Accordingly, the chapter
invokes the works of Foucault and Agamben in an attempt to identify
the political economy underpinning the EU’s mobility regime of free and
forced fl ows. This perspective also allows for useful spatial interpretations
of the relations between cartographic representation of the phenomenon of migration and the sovereign power involved in producing knowledge
about migration and border control.
By analysing the European efforts to reconstruct its borderscapes
through the externalization of detention camps to Libya, I argue that
focusing only on sovereign power and the production of free circulation
for some, and forced fl ows of others, risk bypassing other political, technocratic
and public–private dynamics. The chapter focuses in particular on
the intergovernmental and supranational negotiations of a Northwestern
Triade of EU states, namely the Netherlands, the UK and Denmark,
alongside Germany and Italy, which facilitated the rise of Libya as a host
state for preemptive European control of asylum seekers. These dynamics
are crucial when seeking a comprehensive understanding of how the
EurAfrican dynamics of border control are characterized by the export of
control to regions like Libya or Egypt. This, in turn, has prompted two
parallel developments reinforcing one another: On the one hand, it has
led to the closure of legal escape routes from Africa and the Middle East,
which in turn has created the unprecedented rise of a smuggling industry
operating often fatal alternative routes. On the other hand, European
border control and its ‘combat against smugglers’ has emerged as a massively
lucrative market for the European arms industry, both in terms of
contracts to guard the EU’s external borders and in terms of the export of
weapons and control systems to North African states. Finally, the chapter suggests that while many forced migration researchers
have tended to view border control as a reaction to the movement of
already-displaced people, externalization is in fact a cause of transnational
displacement and forced migration in itself. I label this specifi c kind of
forced migration brought about by EU border control ‘border- induced
displacement’, since this allow us to appraise both the functionality of the
EurAfrican border regime and the humanitarian consequences characterizing
this kind of displacement. Perhaps we can then provide some tentative
answers to those asking how the tragedy at Lampedusa could have
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEurAfrican Borders and Migration Management : Political Cultures, Contested Spaces and Ordinary Lives
EditorsPaolo Gaibazzi, Stephan Dünnwald, Alice Bellagamba
Number of pages35
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date1 Nov 2016
ISBN (Print)9781349949724
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
SeriesPalgrave Series in African Borderlands Studies

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  • Europæisk Flygtningepolitik

    Martin Lemberg-Pedersen (Lecturer)

    27 Apr 2018

    Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations

  • Flugtruter, kontrol og fordrivelse

    Martin Lemberg-Pedersen (Lecturer)

    25 Apr 2017

    Activity: Talks and presentationsTalks and presentations in private or public companies

  • Harokopio University

    Martin Lemberg-Pedersen (Visiting researcher)

    1 Mar 20151 May 2015

    Activity: Visiting another research institution

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