Forging Flexibility - the British 'No' to Schengen

In pursuit of a norms-based perspective on governance, this paper investigates Schengen debates in the House of Lords; it is shown that British restraints have raised to salience the concept of flexibility as foundational to the emerging EU polity.

ARENA Working Paper 01/2000 (html)

Antje Wiener

So far, literature on the Schengen treaty has been predominantly concerned with (i) the treaty’s technical implications or (ii) the consequences of a changing migration policy in Europe. In turn, there has been little theoretical work on Schengen from the perspective of shifting politics of governance, and specifically, decision-making `between' international politics, European integration and domestic politics. This paper elaborates on some promising theoretical avenues to Schengen; its main intention is to shift the perspective of governance studies towards the role of norms in decision-making processes. The empirical part of the paper draws upon hearings on Schengen held in the British House of Lords; the material suggests that the British `no' to Schengen may not be sufficiently explained with reference to British Euroscepticism. As this paper proceeds to show, once working with a constructivist approach that identifies a dual character of norms as stable structuring as well as unstable constructed factors in the policy process, it follows that the British `no' has been substantial to forging flexibility as a constitutional principle in the `European' polity. That is, flexibility appears to have assumed a place within the `embedded acquis communautaire’. This paper looks more closely at the role of norms in this process.

Tags: governance, ideas, Schengen, U.K.
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM - Last modified Apr. 21, 2016 2:34 PM