A Boundary-breaking Elite Utopia? The EU’s ‘free movement of persons’ as power-based belonging and displacement dynamics

Dr. Cristina Blanco Sio-Lopez

This paper critically analyses the role of multilevel EU institutional elites in articulating differential resilient responses to evolving modes of exclusion since the inception of the Schengen Area in 1985. Furthermore, it aims to recover empowering historical critiques towards the so-called 'Schengen Laboratory' which could be relevant today to find inclusive ways of responding to the asylum and migration external dimension challenges currently being posed with regards to the EU free movement of persons.
More particularly, this contribution focuses on the interplay between the free movement of persons and the crucial issue of migration. In this respect, it addresses the European institutions' elite proposals to constructively integrate third country forced migrants in the Community with a view to outlining changing notions of positive societal impact in periods characterised by crises and demands for systemic change. In a similar vein, it also tackles the European institutions' elites evolving positions towards the neglecting of the solidarity and diversity dimensions of European integration as part of different asylum crises.
This piece is based on a comparative approach to EU inter-institutional relations taking the European Parliament and the European Commission as paradigmatic observatories. This dual-track enquiry on EP and EC sources is based on archival research at the Historical Archives of the EU in Florence, the Historical Archives of the EP in Luxembourg and the European Parliament Research Services, etc. These sources also include a large set of Oral History interviews conducted with key decision-makers at the European institutions on the sources and effects of introducing the ‘free movement of persons’ as part of the Schengen area.
The main questions to be addressed are: What are the evolving modes of exclusion in transnational mobility in Europe and beyond? How can historical critiques be relevant to today’s challenges to free movement of persons? What are the neglected differential solidarity and diversity dimensions of European integration? In this light, can we articulate responses to humanitarian dilemmas beyond security-centred conceptions of transnational mobility? And normatively, are narratives on ‘shared values’ in the EU and beyond, sufficient to mediate countervailing factors of exclusion?