Protecting European Borders: Changing Border Police Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Area
Summary, in English
The recent influx of migrants and asylum seekers in Europe has drawn our attention towards the future of Schengen and European border politics. In 2014-2015 a European collaborative project called Turnstone (partly funded by the European commission) was implemented to increase control of European borders in the Baltic Sea area and to diminish trans-boundary criminality. The purpose of the project is also to increase cooperation between border, police and coast guard officers in Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden. The officers argue that the abolition of internal borders and the implementation of the Schengen regime in the EU has led to increased efforts to control and monitor borderlands and border crossings. The border officers must rely on cooperation to perform their duties of border guarding and hence must change their methods of working. This is a qualitative study based on empirically gathered material such as field interviews and fieldwork observations at the different border agencies. The purpose of this study is to analyze how the staff of the different organizations defines successful collaboration and what collaboration obstacles they have identified during the implementation of the cooperation project. The findings suggest that the border officers re-negotiate spatial and cultural identities to make cooperation possible. The idea of common northern European historical identity is described as important for successful cooperation. At the same time, language and communication difficulties, differences in work practices and national legislation, differences in status and different areas of interest are seen as collaboration obstacles. However, the border officers are united in their views and efforts to protect EU territory and Schengen space from external threat and criminal activity.