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New book: The Borders of the European Union in a Conflictual World

3 May 2024

In this open-access book, Lars Oxelheim, one of the editors, and Fredrik Sjöholm, both IFN, together with the other authors, examine the implications for the EU of a radically changed international context characterized by systemic rivalry, competition over norms, and regulations, and growing strategic tension.

In the first chapter, the authors review the evolution of borders throughout European history. The modern concept of borders as dividing lines is a relatively recent phenomenon and constitutes somewhat of a paradox from a historical perspective. It evolved as political orders started to use borders to demarcate the boundaries of their power. In that vein, the modern nation-state was premised on control over a specific territory whose political system, wealth, and culture had to be defended against enemies, often to the detriment of peaceful inter-state relations in Europe.

After World War II, European integration was pursued with the aim of forming a political union challenging the traditional notion of borders as the economic, political, and social boundaries between the EU member states were gradually removed. In the process, however, borders as demarcation lines towards countries not (yet) members of the Union rose in significance.

Consequently, the EU has been in almost constant enlargement since its inception, increasing its membership from six to 28 - and then 27 because of Brexit. In 2024, a potential enlargement of 10 more nations is under discussion. The book then proceeds with chapters on varying interdisciplinary perspectives on borders in contemporary Europe.

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