II: Security on and beyond national borders

Implementation of European Union security strategies in the context of Integrated Border Management

Sari Lindblom and Joona Castren


In 2009 the European Council worked on the report on how the Security Strategy from 2003 was implemented in and within its member states (Council of the European Union, 2003). The report’s results included the Commission’s recommendations for each member state to react to key threats. In the past threats were mostly threat scenarios. Today they are not merely threat scenarios but real and present in everyday life. In 2009 and today climate change, irregular immigration into Europe, radicalism, and piracy are the threats and major challenges many Europeans believe Europe faces (Standard Eurobarometer Surveys 91 (spring 2019) and 92 (autumn 2019)). Common legal decrees and policies within member states are key in responding to obvious conflicts and crises, because the perceived threats are inherently international. No individual state can therefore simply isolate itself. Nationalist policies are ineffective; cohesion and collaborative efforts are more necessary than ever. Furthermore, Europe’s security will be pro- vided by pre-emptive action to restore and build trust in the European Union (EU). Border governance legislation is based on the best operative practices of the Border Guard. Legislation requires all member states to implement the same decrees and actions.

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG), plays a key role in combating security threats in Europe. It supports its member countries and their organisations by playing a coordinating role in the European member states’ border operations. Border control within Europe is assessed by the Schengen evaluation mechanism, which requires each member country to fix their operational and managerial processes when required, maintain quality at a high level, and follow legislation to guarantee safety outside and within Europe. The evaluation mechanism is a tool for building trust between member states. It necessitates mutual trust between member states and adherence to the same rules and joint agreements, as well as their operationalisation at the highest standards. Quality control also includes a mechanism to check vulnerability, in which technical and operational border control is constantly evaluated. The mechanism guarantees real-time situational awareness and the performance of technical solutions.

Finland has been one of the EU countries that has been pushing for the development of common and cooperative legislation and the earlier Finnish border management expertise has had a crucial influence on the way border control has been developed on a European scale. The shared Schengen Area is controlled by the EU’s Integrated Border Management (IBM) model and each member state’s national security system. Finland’s pioneering role is reflected in its systematic development of its national systems and close cooperation with Frontex and other key security authorities at both the national and international levels. EU integration has imposed several responsibilities and duties on each member state. Integration is visible, both geographically and in the increased number of EU policy fields. One of the policy fields with significant integrational effects is the external border management policy. IBM has required member states to undertake new tasks and responsibilities to each member state. The requirement for member states to deploy technical equipment and personnel in joint operations under EBCG command has increased over time (Cortinovis, 2015), and the latest developments in the EBCG standing corps herald a new era of EU border governance.

Finland as a developer of border management for the Schengen Area

The external borders of every European country are the gates to that country, but they are also the gates to Europe and the Schengen Area. This is sometimes forgotten in public conversation; citizens of each country falsely focus on the discussion of national border control instead of international EU and Schengen border security. It is clear that the external borders are each country’s borders, and the authorities of a country have an enormous responsibility to guard their own borders. It is important to take into account at the same time that when one crosses the border from somewhere outside the EU, one is crossing the border of the EU as a whole. Each member country depends on the safety, quality, and effectiveness of the other states’ border control. The visible and important development within the EU of the deletion of interior border controls between member states is too often forgotten. Free movement from one country to another within Europe is one of its main ideological values, alongside the economic contracts between members.

Before EU membership Finland’s operating border governance practice was very much as it is now. Indeed, the border governance legislation (border checks and border control) follows the practice that was in use in Finland before its 1995 accession to the Union. One practical policy example is the free movement within the Nordic countries since 1950. This ideology exemplifies free movement within EU countries. Finland has therefore played a crucial role in building a common European border governance. The Finnish Border Guard has a permanent position in the EU. It develops active border and coast guard legislation, and implements it within the Union.

Aim of Integrated Border Management

The strategic development of European security began with the EU’s Security Strategy (EES) in 2003. According to this report the development of the European security policy has followed typical strategic processes, with updated strategies every three to five years. Where this differs from typical strategic planning is that European security strategies have shifted their focus from comprehensive security (Council of the European Union, 2003) to internal security issues (European Commission, 2005; European Union, 2008; European Commission, 2010a), then to global security (European Commission, 2015; European External Action Service, 2016), and back to comprehensive security (European Commission, 2020).

While Europe can be seen as having formed a security community since the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community, the launch of the Security Strategy in 2003 added a new kind of communal security perception. The shift in the security paradigm has widened the referent object beyond the state and brought it to the microlevel (Buzan and Hansen, 2009). Furthermore, to promote integration, the EU sees security as communal by nature. Burgess (2009) encapsulates the idea of European security as follows:

the ambition of a Europewide approach to security has grown into a complex constellation, involving national cultures, institutional norms, political agendas, local perceptions, and global needs, all in an attempt to standardise and create a systematic juridical, institutional, and technical approach to the threats Europe faces today.

(Burgess, 2009: 310)

The idea of communal security has developed into a comprehensive view. It was conceived in the Global Strategy Security Strategy (2003) and the EU Strategic Agenda for 2019-24, and now in the EU Security Union Strategy (2020). In the course of these strategies the threats posed by terrorism and organised crime have remained unchanged, because other strategic threats have altered according to global security phenomena. The perception of security has nevertheless shifted to human security issues, including societal security. The aim of the Global Strategy was to build a stronger Europe with shared values and cooperation within member states against the threats to the security of the community. The EU Strategic Agenda and the EU Security Union Strategy will return the focus of the EU to a comprehensive view of security (European Commission, 2020: 2), while protecting European values: respect for and upholding the rule of law; equality and fundamental rights; and guaranteeing transparency, accountability, and democratic control (European Commission, 2020: 1).

The Europewide approach to security is visible in strategies and security practices. Burgess argues that security is less unambiguous where the value- based perception of threats and security are concerned (Burgess, 2009: 309-10). According to Burgess a security threat is threatening precisely because it stems from what we value and what we fear (Burgess, 2009: 309). Hence, if we accept the premise of common European values, threats that endanger social contracts and human security are the most significant European threats. Through its border security practices the EU acts against terrorism, organised crime, irregular immigration, cross-border and environmental crime, and hybrid threats. As Callens and Meuleman (2017: 368-69) emphasise, the cultural nature of value-based threat perceptions distinguishes them from material threat perceptions such as employment, housing, and the economy. Values are therefore the very constructions of Europe to be united, constituting the European identity as a whole. To protect the European way of life (European Commission, 2020: 1), the EU must ground its integrated practice in common values if they are to be legitimate in the eyes of EU citizens.

The aim of this chapter is to illustrate how the EU responds to strategic threats through IBM. This chapter assumes a broad approach to security to facilitate insights into wider changes in European security in the context of external border management. In this chapter we analyse how the inter- twinement of external and internal securities has become an indivisible part of border security practices and the normative scope of IBM. Our analysis relies on a broad understanding of security (Buzan, Wasver, and de Wilde, 1998; Buzan and Hansen, 2009) that is not limited to mere inter-state relations or the actual security sector. Rather, it highlights critical perspectives of the construction of the perceived security threat, practices that aim to ensure security, questions about referent objects, and last but not least the intertwinement of the internal and external dimensions of security.

The traditional and somewhat outmoded aim of border security practices was to prevent external security issues from becoming internal security issues. However, it has become clear that security as a concept has become increasingly multifaceted (Laine, 2015; 2017). Rather than something instinctively external looming behind Europe’s borders, many, if not the majority, of perceived threats and challenges the EU faces are homegrown (Laine, 2020). Terrorism is an especially apt example of a threat that can be internal as well as external. The concept of IBM, with its four-tier access model, aims to respond to the entire spectrum of external security issues becoming internal security issues.

The very idea of broad security gives meaning to the contemporary perception of border security. Many of the threats handled by border security practices are unforeseen and may have catastrophic consequences. Moreover, as Muller (2010: 69) states, the absence of catastrophes is an indicator

L indblom and Castren 89

of effective border security practices. Indeed, in authorising border security professionals to prevent these threats from happening, the security community gives broad executive powers to agencies (Andersson, 2016: 1065). External border management includes the fields of counterterrorism, cross- border crime, governance, and politics, but this policy-relevant chapter focuses on external border management as a border security practice and the implementation of IBM (Figure 4.1).

The contemporary view of borders as permeable social contracts (Janzon, 2014: 38-9) draws on liberal ideas, in which the level of surveillance is measured against the gains received. Another view of border governance sees surveillance as a Banopticon (Balzacq et al., 2010), sealing Europe into a fortress with networks of security professionals. The normative capacity of the EU in border governance can be seen at three different levels, depending on the theoretical lens: 1. politicised and sovereign border governance, small normative power; 2. politicised border governance, relative normative power; and 3. EU border governance. Judging by the regulatory instruments in the field of external border management, the development is ongoing, and the EU is on its way to a common integrated border governance model. Nevertheless, the Schengen evaluation mechanism, the vulnerability assessment, and the EBCG standing corps are among the giant leaps away from

Figure 4.1 Implementation of EU security strategies in the context of IBM the politicised border governance field the objective of which is to increase the EU’s normative power over member states’ sovereign border governance.

European security strategies and strategic threats

According to the report of the Council of the European Union (2003) sig- nificant threats to the EU are seen as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflict, fragile states, and organised crime. Actions against these threats have all developed into their own policies since 2003. Counterterrorism policy consists of a variety of measures, from information exchange to the European Arrest Warrant and combating terrorist financing. Regional conflict has been a fundamental and existential threat to the EU since the days of the European Economic Community (EEC). Integration has been the chosen policy tool to counter regional conflict for the last twenty years and remains the preferred approach, supported by the EU Neighbourhood Policy. The EU has helped fragile states with crisis management and capacity-building operations. At the political level the Union has aided fragile states with development cooperation. Helping fragile states is a prime example of the neo-functional spillover effect (Niemann, 2016) between two or more policies to achieve one goal. Action against organised crime has developed into institutional structures (COR- EPER II, EUROJUST, EUROPOL, EBCG) and is thereby the most solid practical development in the field of European security.

In 2015 the EU launched a new global strategy (European External Action Service, 2016) to update the 2003 security strategy. The aim of the new strategy was to respond to the critical events of the 2010s. The continuing Libya crisis and Arab Spring of 2011, the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and migratory pressure in 2015-16 brought new kinds of threats to which the old strategy could not respond (Peterson and Helwig, 2017: 310). The objective of the Global Strategy the European Commission was to build a stronger Europe. The Commission sees the EU as threatened within and beyond its borders. Terrorism, hybrid threats, climate change, economic volatility, and energy insecurity are seen as endangering the European people and territory. It is claimed that the politics of fear threatens European values and the European way of life (European External Action Service, 2016: 18-19).

“Internal and external security are ever more intertwined: our security at home entails a parallel interest in peace in our neighbouring and surrounding regions” (European External Action Service, 2016: 14). The implications of intertwined internal and external securities are visible in IBM. Commonly described as a Mobius Ribbon, the intertwinement has become increasingly tight in the last two decades (Bigo, 2001; Balzacq et ah, 2010). The Lisbon Treaty set the stage for interagency cooperation and the deepening of the security perception. The development of the pillar model from the Maastricht Treaty bound the security agencies to internal security, but with the evolving threats security governance became adaptive to both internal and external security (Bossong and Rhinard, 2016: 3).

Following the 2018 Global Strategy the European Council launched a New Strategic Agenda 2019-24 in June 2019. The New Strategic Agenda emphasises the EU’s role in protecting the rights and freedoms of EU citizens. Border management is seen as playing a key role:

We must ensure the integrity of our territory. We need to know and be the ones to decide who enters the EU. Effective control of the external borders is an absolute prerequisite for guaranteeing security, upholding law and order, and ensuring properly functioning EU policies, in line with our principles and values.

(European Council, 2019)

In implementing the New Strategic Agenda, Finland has enabled an even broader perception of security:

To protect Europe, we need to harness the instruments we already have and prepare together for the potential threats of tomorrow. The EU has a key role in promoting a comprehensive approach to security in Europe. By combating cross-border crime and terrorism, and by efficient border management, the EU and its Member States can make the EU a safer place to live. This calls for a reduction in inequalities. The overall internal security of the EU should be approached on a broad front, combining crime prevention with law-enforcement cooperation, judicial cooperation, border management, civil protection and other relevant sectors.

(Council of the European Union, 2019b)

Subsequent to the New Strategic Agenda, the Commission published the EU Security Union Strategy (European Commission, 2020). The new security strategy pursues even more integration in security matters - indeed, it seeks political spillovers in many policy fields to serve security ends. In stating that all policies need a security dimension (European Commission, 2020: 20), the EU welcomes a political spillover in these policy sectors - that is, it securitises these policy fields. Nevertheless, there is a clear reason for this security-oriented process; the security issues threatening Europe are more interconnected than ever (European Commission, 2020). The idea and application of a Security Union is a bold step towards an EU-driven security governance and away from a politicised field of security: “Citizens cannot be protected only through Member States acting on their own. Building on our strengths to work together has never been more essential, and the EU has never had more potential to make a difference” (European Commission, 2020: l).The new strategy’s 2020-25 period follows the typical strategy process. In the strategy the Commission emphasises its whole-of-society approach to security (European Commission, 2020: 2).

The Integrated Border Management system as a capacity tool and European border security practices

First, to examine the complex field of border security practices, we need to operationalise IBM in the European security field. IBM is a policy tool that aims to integrate a variety of security measures implemented by the EBCG and member states. IBM was launched under the Finnish presidency at the 2,768th Council Meeting in Brussels in 2006. In their conclusions the Council defines the concept of IBM as consisting of the following dimensions (press release C/06/341, Brussels 4.12.2006: 25):

a Border control (checks and surveillance) as defined in the Schengen Borders Code, including relevant risk analysis and crime intelligence; b Detection and investigation of cross-border crime in coordination with all competent law enforcement authorities; c The four-tier access control model (measures in third countries, cooperation with neighbouring countries, border control, control measures within the area of free movement, including return); d Interagency cooperation for border management (border guards, customs, police, national security, and other relevant authorities) and international cooperation;

e Coordination and coherence of the activities of member states and institutions and other bodies of the Community and the Union.

First seen as a “global approach on migration” (Carrera, 2007), the IBM concept has gained a foothold in the EU’s external border management policy and become a strategic aim in developing European border management. From the beginning of IBM development Frontex was seen as the conductive agency responsible for implementing the policy (Carrera, 2007: 2). The main guiding principle of IBM has always been its aim to respond to all border-related threats (see Table 4.1). Another defining principle of IBM is its call for interagency cooperation (Carrera, 2007: 3). A liberal integrational take on IBM reveals it achieved this second goal quickly and became a form of intergovernmental cooperation rather than a field of political struggle between the EU agency and member states. In the same vein it can be said that the normative tools used in the external border management policy have been very careful not to infringe member states’ sovereignty: the entire rationale of Frontex and the EBCG has been to integrate member states’ border security practices.

The first regulatory instrument (Balzacq, 2011: 17) to legislate for IBM was the Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004 establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union. In the regulation the Commission sees the integrated management of external borders as ensuring a uniform and high level of control and surveillance. The Commission further sees uniform practice as necessary for the area of free movement of persons and a fundamental component of an area of freedom, security, and justice (European Commission, 2007/2004). Hence, the Commission has put border security practices on a pedestal, because these practices protect the EU’s principal ideas.

The next phase of IBM development included Frontex joint operations, which constituted the status of the agency through constructive institutionalism. Moreover, the joint operations strengthened intergovernmental cooperation and further legitimised the agency’s actions in member states. Through rational choice institutionalism has benefited member states in relation to the normative obligations or requirements to second technical equipment or personnel to the agency (Cortinovis, 2015: 263). In his conclusions Cortinovis (2015) finds the amendments (2007, 2011, and 2014) made to Frontex regulation, including elements of hard law, are the normative requirements for member states. Nevertheless, the “soft-law”, or rational choice institutionalism, is as constitutional when the responsibility for border management remains politicised between the EU and member states (Cortinovis, 2015: 263-64).

The intrinsic nature of these amendments was intended to serve as a technical capacity tool rather than a regulatory instrument. The purpose of the amendments was to smooth the cooperation between Frontex and member states in seconding technical equipment and personnel for joint operations or rapid interventions. The amended capacities therefore remained on the executive level of border management, and no massive alterations were seen in the IBM concept between 2004 and 2016. The concept of IBM eventually saw the light of day as a binding regulatory instrument in Regulation (EU) 2016/1624 of the European Parliament and the Council (2016). This regulation established the European Border and Coast Guard to ensure IBM at the external borders of the EU (European Parliament and the Council, 2016: Article 1). Furthermore, the components of European IBM were set as follows:1

a Border control; b Search and rescue operations; c Risk analysis;

d Cooperation between member states supported and coordinated by the agency;

e Interagency cooperation; f Cooperation with third countries; g Control measures within the area of free movement; h Return instruments.

Shortly after the enlargement of Frontex/the EBCG, the European Parliament and the Council legislated another regulatory instrument to further increase the mandate of the EBCG. The components of IBM are operationalised in the EBCG’s tasks in the regulatory instrument legislating its

94 Implementation of EU security strategies

functioning (see Table 4.1). In 2019 IBM practices were amended with information exchange and cooperation between member states. The EBCG’s tasks have expanded to cover the entire spectrum of the four-tier access model, while the coordination and coherence of the member states and insti- tutions have gained more weight. When these capacity tools are abstracted in practice, the border security operations within the IBM framework relate closely to those of the EBCG.

Table 4.1 Border security practices2

Integrated Border Management

European Border and Coast Quard Agency

Border control

Coordinating and organising joint operations (g), Rapid border interventions (h), Deployment of the standing corps (j), Technical equipment pool (k), Migration management support teams (m), Assistance to member states (MSs) in facilitating persons to cross the external borders, i.e. border checks (ag)

Search and rescue operations

Coast guard functions (i)

Risk analysis

Risk analysis (a)

Information exchange

Develop technical standards for information exchange (y), Establish and maintain a communication network (aa), Develop and operate information systems (ab, ac, ae, af)

Inter-agency cooperation

Inter-agency cooperation (q,r,s,t)

Cooperation with third countries

Cooperation with third countries (v)

Return of third-country nationals

Monitor the operational needs of MSs related to the implementation of returns (b), Assistance in return process (n), Pool of forced-return monitors (o), Deployment of return teams (p)

Large-scale information systems

Development and operation of EURO- SUR (0, R&.D, innovations, surveillance technology (x)

Quality control, i.e. Schengen evaluation and the vulnerability assessment, training

Vulnerability assessment (c), Monitor the management of the external borders through liaison (d), Monitor compliance with fundamental rights (e), Internal quality control, training (1), Assistance in training the border guards (w), Development of technical standards for equipment, development of common standards for external border surveillance (z), Oversight of legality (ad)

Funding instruments



Terrorism and organised crime have been seen as threatening the European values and way of life in every strategy (see Table 4.1). The IBM border security practices respond to the threat posed by terrorism with risk analysis, information exchange, and interagency cooperation. The adjustments made in 2020 strengthen the information exchange component, which has been seen as a key component in counterterrorism and external border management (Den Boer, 2015). In the last decade the perception of terrorism has shifted from external threat to internal security. Police cooperation aiming to prevent organised crime is one of the most institutionalised forms of security cooperation.

Drawing on the liberal integrational source of power, the EU promotes voluntary forms of regional governance to manage security concerns effectively (European External Action Service, 2016: 32). Moreover, the Commission strived for more cohesion within the EU in the fields of migration and security (European External Action Service, 2016: 10-11). The Commission encouraged member states to pay more attention to mutual assistance and solidarity to guarantee European security (European External Action Service, 2016: 19) in addressing challenges such as terrorism, hybrid threats, cyber and energy security, and external border management. To underline this comprehensive view of security, the strategy mentioned the possibility of utilising Common Security and Defence Policy Missions and border security missions, aiming to save more lives, fight cross-border crime, and disrupt smuggling networks (European External Action Service, 2016: 20). Furthermore, information sharing and intelligence cooperation between member states and EU agencies are ways to practise solidarity in anti-terrorism action (European External Action Service, 2016: 21). The EU actions against such threats range from investment in R&.D, the rule of law, and intelligence. How do the Global Strategy and the Security Union Strategy become visible in IBM in 2020? The new tools of comprehensive European security in the context of IBM can be explained either by integration, a neo-functional spillover effect (Niemann, 2016), or as a security continuum (Huysmans, 2006). In each aspect policy tools from other fields of politics are brought to the security field and utilised to achieve the goals of improving or increasing security. IBM can also be seen as a normative tool for harmonising national border security practices. The quotations above reveal that the aim is to adopt as many policy tools as are appropriate for security ends, especially border security (European External Action Service, 2016: 45).

The neo-functional spillover works in various ways. In the preamble of the latest EBCG regulation the European Parliament and Council see it as necessary to ensure coherence with other policy objectives when implementing IBM (European Parliament and the Council, 2019: preamble). Thus, as Neal concludes (2009: 353), the establishment and operations of

Frontex “must also be considered in the context of the numerous other institutional, technical and legal tools being developed by the EU for the management of migration, security and indeed many other areas of policy”.

Like IBM, the EU actions against strategic threats align with ongoing developments which draw greater strength and legitimacy from strategic approval. Compared with the Council’s initial IBM model, very few new actions were declared in the 2016 Global Strategy or the Security Union Strategy. IBM had been the aim of community policy since 2004, when the European Council issued its regulation establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union - Frontex (European Commission, 2007/2004). In 2004 the agency’s role was to develop and improve the management of external borders, whereas the EU regulation 2016/1624 established the EBCG to ensure coherent European IBM (European Parliament and the Council, 2016: Article 6). Both regulatory tools amending the role of the EBCG refer to Article 77 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which sets the policy goal to adopt any measures required for the gradual establishment of an integrated management system for external borders.


The Security Union Strategy and the concept of the Security Union are the successful results of a long-term strategic development towards comprehensive security. IBM border security practices are designed to respond to all border-related strategic threats. Moreover, IBM strategic practices have been operationalised in the EBCG’s agency-level practices. The functions of the EBCG are therefore the result of a long-term strategic development. Furthermore, the evolution of the IBM concept has been the result of a longterm strategic development rather than an emergency measure during a state of exception. The events of the last twenty years have fuelled the acceptance of the enlargements but have not been the sole reason for increasing the institutional status of IBM practice.

The regulatory instruments continue to slowly evolve from soft-law to hard-law, but responding to border-related strategic threats remains politicised between the agency and member states. The recent migration crises (2006, 2011, 2015-16) have severely tested IBM as a communal security practice. The EU has had to act to retain its position as a security community. As integration has widened and strengthened, the EU has assumed more responsibility for security. IBM will therefore continue to be the method of choice in external border management policy.

The security landscape continues to change rapidly, and the northern dimensions of the security environment are in constant flux. However, Finland is no longer driftwood but an actor of change. Significant improvements to European border security and important initiatives have been made during the Finnish presidencies, the latest being the drive towards an even more comprehensive perception of security. Building European capabilities and capacities to respond to interdependent threats requires a comprehensive understanding of European security.


  • 1 Extracted from European Parliament and the Council (2016: Article 4).
  • 2 The table was produced by comparative content analysis. The empirical data used in the analysis consisted of Regulation (EU) 2019/1896, Articles 3 and 10.


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