Hungary in the Schengen system: Bastion or Gatewy?

CímHungary in the Schengen system: Bastion or Gatewy?
Közlemény típusaKönyv / Book
Év / Year2009
SzerzőkMolnár, Tamás, Illés Sándor, and Melegh Attila
Kiadó / PublisherHungarian Europe Society
Város / CityBudapest
A publikáció nyelve / Publication Languageeng

Hungary fully joined the Schengen system on 21st December 2007. With its accession, Hungary completed its transition both into the free movement and borderless area of “Schengen land” and a new visa regime (visa issuing system) based on common EU norms and regulations (the so-called Schengen acquis). The visa issuing system as a tool to control the movement of persons crossing the borders is a key element in exercising sovereignty, thus full Schengen membership means the loss of the nation-state based control over the borders. Full Schengen membership and the related common legal acts together are effective means in the construction of a “European” political and social body as it sets conditional exclusion and inclusion practices into a “European” social space or, better to say, social body. The border as “contingent closure“1 is probably the most demonstrative system in creating a unity as seen from the outside. In this sense, full Schengen accession has not changed the function of borders in the era of globalization; it has just shifted the level of control from the national to the “European” level monopolized by the European Union (being the combination of “civilized” nations). We are not heading towards a borderless world in the European Union. On the contrary, we can actually observe the erection of definite walls. It is important to note that the exact nature of these walls is rarely discussed in the relevant literature on borders. Therefore, this can certainly be a key issue in our analysis. Also it is very important to see that national specificities do play a role, and systems on visa issuing show how different nations imagine and institutionalize themselves in the global order as “European” countries. As mentioned above, this system is rarely analyzed. In order to understand the way borders are set up and how exclusions and inclusions happen at these borders, in this paper we combine not only a statistical analysis with the qualitative methods of expert and background interviews, but also include the results of the field work performed in several institutions, supplementing them with appropriate textual analysis.