Accepted Paper:

Can we trust them? Schengen enlargement and security discourse  


Alexandra Schwell (University of Klagenfurt)

Paper short abstract:

The discussion on the Schengen enlargement is closely tied to issues of trust and mistrust towards Eastern Europe. The paper will scrutinize how these concepts are instrumentalized and securitized by various actors in Germany and Austria.

Paper long abstract:

Trust and confidence are the basis of all functioning social relationships. It is one of the foremost tasks of the EU to foster mutual trust across its borders, in order to develop a European feeling of belonging (identity) and thus strengthen legitimacy. Trust is always reciprocal: it depends on mutual confidence and the expectancy that the leap of faith will be rewarded. This trust, on which the European Union to a large degree is built, is still rather fragile between Western and Eastern Europe.

The enlargement of the Schengen area by the end of 2007 has once again emphasized not only the importance and meaning of trust/mistrust, but also of the ways these concepts can be instrumentalized and securitized. Mistrust always entails fear, insecurity and thus a negative image of the "Other", who cannot be trusted. Hence while some actors promote freedom of movement and a united Europe, others stoke fears of organized crime and consider the new member states not trustworthy.

Drawing on German and Austrian media coverage and political discourse I will scrutinize, how trust/mistrust towards Eastern Europe is exploited by different actors, which aims actors pursue when invoking images related to trust/mistrust, and finally how this discourse affects the idea of Europe as the "ever closer Union".

Panel W048
A matter of trust: anthropological explorations into an old concept