Bordering Europe Abroad: Schengen Visa Policy Implementation in Morocco and Transnational Policy-Making from Below

PhD Viva of Federica Infantino

Institut de Sociologie, Avenue Jeanne 44, 1050 Bruxelles
Université Libre de Bruxelles, Salle Henri Janne, Building S, 15th floor
November, 2014 at 10 am

The constitution of the European visa regime has deservingly received much scholarly attention. It has been analyzed as part of the policy toolkit that displaces migration control away from the edges of the territory of Europe. Nevertheless, the street-level implementation of this European policy in national consulates remains understudied. This dissertation sheds ethnographic light on Schengen visa policy implementation that is conceptualized as bordering policy. By delivering Schengen visas, state and nonstate organizations achieve the filtering work of borders; this dissertation therefore investigates the day-to-day bordering of Europe abroad and using a comparative approach and focusing on from the theoretical perspective of street-level policy implementation. The analysis builds on a comparative case study: it focuses on the visa sections of the consulates of two old immigration countries, Belgium and France, and one new immigration country, Italy, which implement visa policy in a same third country, i.e. Morocco. This study highlights cross-national differences of visa policy day-to-day implementation that are due to shifting historical backgrounds, national sense-making of visa policy, and distinct organizational conditions. However, the comparative research design and the inductive epistemological approach deployed have revealed processes of transfer at the implementation level, which result in transnational policy-making from below. Informal interactions between actors constitute a ‘community of practice’ based on the desire to share local and practical knowledge rather than expert knowledge in order to address problems linked to day-to-day implementation. The street-level view of visa policy implementation in a comparative perspective reveals that bureaucratic action is aimed at stemming undesired regular migration rather than irregular migration.