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This book examines the timely topic of controlling the borders of the European Schengen Area. It considers the state perspective on border regulation, subjecting day-to-day practices of EU visa policy implementation to close analytical scrutiny. The objects of the analysis are three European Member States—France, Belgium, and Italy—that implement EU visa policy in Morocco, a country whose nationals are considered to be a migratory ‘risk’ for the EU. The book focuses on the implementation of EU visa policy in the consulates of Belgium, France and Italy in Casablanca. The empirical research and the comparative perspective make this book distinct. The book uses a ‘comprehensive implementation approach’ by taking account of the local, national and supranational locations of policy-making. It builds on in-depth pioneering fieldwork and a comparative research design that includes those three locations. The research design has determined the evolving of the puzzle and the realizing of the unanticipated: cross-national differences diminish when policy is put into practice. Extensive research into the visa sections of those EU Member States provides highly original material that sheds light on the obscure black box of EU visa policy implementation, therefore contributing to policy studies, migration studies, and studies on the European Union.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Abstract
The visa—an authorization to cross borders—is a recent invention. The history of visas is strictly interrelated to the constitution of modern nation-states. The Schengen visa is noticeable since it is issued by one state, but it authorizes entry in an area of more than one nation-state, in which internal frontiers have been lifted. The Schengen visa has been analyzed as a policy instrument of European migration control. However, the day-to-day implementation in comparative perspective remained a ‘black box’. This study focuses on the implementation of EU visa policy in the consulates of Belgium, France, and Italy in Morocco. It does so in original manners. First, it uses a ‘comprehensive implementation approach’ by taking account of the local, national, and supranational locations of Schengen visa policy-making. Second, it builds on in-depth pioneering fieldwork and a comparative research design that includes those three locations. The research design has determined the evolving of the puzzle and the realizing of the unanticipated: Cross-national differences diminish when policy is put into practice. Before outlining the content of the book, I highlight the findings as well as their contribution to implementation studies, comparative policy studies, migration studies, and European studies.
Federica Infantino

Texts and Contexts

Frontmatter

Schengen Visa Policy-Making: Shifting Competence While Authorizing Discretion

Abstract
This chapter focuses on the legally binding and self-executing text that regulates the procedures and conditions for issuing Schengen visas—the Visa Code—adopted following Community decision-making rules in 2009. EU visa policy is a compensatory measure to free movement whose initial characteristics are discretion and, unlike other historical examples of border-free regions, restrictiveness. The Visa Code is not created from scratch. In regard to the objective of consular action—the assessment of the migratory ‘risk’—it shows continuities with the Common Consular Instructions, drafted during the original Schengen process to which Belgium and France have participated. However, the Visa Code is less precise. Several conditions specific to EU legislative policy-making underline the vagueness of law and broadly worded instructions. The EU legal framework emerges as a source of national discretion. The chapter addresses discontinuities with the original Schengen process, most notably those stemming from the ‘friendly and unified Europe’ policy frame that has underlined the position of new institutional players involved in the adoption of the Visa Code. The Visa Code reveals foreign affairs concerns since EU visa policy is an area in which the image of unified Europe and of a friendly European border is at stake.
Federica Infantino

Morocco: One ‘Third Country’ but Three National Contexts

Abstract
This chapter addresses the context in which Schengen States implement EU visa policy. Implementation practices are tailored to context. Although Belgium, France, and Italy implement visa policy in a same country, the context is differentiated. Contexts stem from the history of bilateral relations, migratory movements, and visa introduction. The colonial past and old, interdependent migratory movements characterize the case of France. The need of workforce prompts migration to Belgium in the 1960s. Moroccans migrating to Italy in the 1990s replace Italian emigration to Morocco. In the 1980s, Belgium and France introduced visa requirements to control migration. Because visa introduction in ex-colonies is sensitive, France uses the disembarkation card and the certificate of lodging as bureaucratic means to control migration until the political opportunity of requiring visas arises. Italy has never used visa policy as an external mechanism of immigration control and, in the 1990s, introduced visa requirements to several countries to comply with European norms. The characteristics of contemporary visa applicants vary considerably, as a result of history. Building on consular statistics, the chapter shows differences, in terms of volumes, rates of short-stay and long-stay visas, refusal rates, travel purposes, and the challenges in using visa statistics for comparisons.
Federica Infantino

The National Sense Making of EU Visa Policy

Abstract
Before one’s arrival in a diplomatic or consular post abroad, not only the high-ranking staff but also low-level employees are interested in learning the national policy in that country, the national interests, and the problems at stake. That is essential knowledge to work in consular posts. Civil servants share narratives that convey sense to visa policy on the ground, by suggesting the issues at stake in delivering visas and what visa policy should do, and to officers’ work, by suggesting the purposes to which their daily action is bent. Narratives place current action in a series of past events. Thus, history differentiates contexts also from the point of view of the sense attributed to EU visa policy. National understandings persist although EU visa policy. Thus, the understandings of visa policy in Morocco vary considerably. According to Belgium, visa policy is ‘sensitive migration control.’ According to Italy, it is ‘scorned migration control.’ According to France, it is ‘migration control and diplomacy.’ Narratives also portray Moroccan applicants therefore nourishing very different subjective representations of the policy recipients. To Belgium, France, and Italy respectively, Moroccan applicants are ‘networked,’ ‘demanding and clientes,’ and ‘wrong.’
Federica Infantino

Bordering in Practice

Frontmatter

The Politics of Management

Abstract
This chapter examines the management of visa policy implementation. State-bound agendas and diplomatic concerns inform the management of the visa application process, which is not merely the realm of technicalities. History affects the ways in which consulate premises materialize Belgian, French, and Italian sovereignty in Morocco. The cross-national differences in the visa application process can be understood only if one considers that process to be ‘street-level diplomacy.’ The chapter illuminates the national organizational conditions in which EU visa policy is implemented. It brings insights that nuance the claims about the externalization of migration control via EU visa policy mainly because the Ministry of the Interior in the home countries is active in various visa processes. Taking account of the humans and non-humans involved in visa-examining processes is a first necessary step toward the comparative analysis of day-to-day implementation practice. The different uses of non-humans (Schengen and national technological toolboxes) are particularly effective at showing the different understandings of decision-making as a more or less objectivized process. There exist also different understandings of the aims ascribed to the same Schengen technological tool (the Schengen Information System, the Visa Information System, the emails sent within the frame of local Schengen cooperation).
Federica Infantino

Policy Work in Visa Sections

Abstract
This chapter focuses on how visa sections actually work by shedding light on the workplace, the trajectories and the social construction of workers’ reputation, the allocation of tasks, the knowledge required to perform the job, and the conditions underlining the making of routines. I use the notion of local and practical knowledge because it is the kind of knowledge that allows for carrying out day-to-day EU visa policy implementation. The chapter highlights that routines are the modes of organizational action. It focuses on the organizational conditions and the nature of the work in visa sections that account for the making of routines: staff turnover, knowledge required, uncertainty, supervisory authority, and social limits to the uses of discretion. Similarities are to be found in the skills required to perform the job and skills-learning processes. Also, in the three visa sections, hierarchies, responsibilities, and tasks do not necessarily overlap. Differences emerge in the ways in which the problem of making decisions is framed within the three national organizations.
Federica Infantino

The Making of Decisions

Abstract
This chapter analyzes decision-making on Schengen visa applications. The chapter highlights decision-making as an organizational process of categorization with shifting empirical appropriateness and examines the decision-making process and its outcomes for Belgium, France, and Italy. I show the negative categories and the features that fall in categories country-by-country. State-bound concerns and purposes underline divergences in decision-making. Notions that pre-exist the communitarized legal framework, namely the ‘risk of procedure circumventing’ and the ‘risk of circumventing the purpose of the visa,’ inform Belgian and French organizational actions. Those notions are absent in the Italian case. Although national paths of organizational action, a coinciding operational meaning of the migratory risk is emerging. That is the risk of lawful settlements and its specifications such as the risk of applying for residence permits, the risk of marriage, and the risk for the welfare state. Because the Italian organization adopts understandings and know-how that are out-of-context yet familiar to Belgium and France, the targets of negative decisions become more and more similar. Given that a same legal framework cannot explain similarities in practice, one element remains to be questioned: the process whereby such policy change from below occurs.
Federica Infantino

Transnational Policy-Making from Below

Abstract
The chapter discusses the contribution of this study on policy transfer and policy change at the street-level of the implementation. It highlights practical and local knowledge sharing within the local ‘community of practice’ as an overlooked element that shapes policy-making on the ground and triggers change in policy practice. The chapter analyzes the birth of a local community of practice by shedding light on the reasons for seeking for colleagues from other national consulates to address problems related to border control and the management of the visa application process. I show that the community of practice is also activated in a domain of national regulations such as the control of ‘fake’ marriages. The chapter continues by addressing the ways in which implementers engage in interactions to learn ‘how the others do’ and the preference toward informal rather than formal settings. The chapter concludes with the discussion of the notion of ‘transnational policy-making from below’ that is intended to describe the nexus between learning of implementers and transfer of policy practice.
Federica Infantino

Conclusions

Abstract
The conclusions trace the lessons from the ‘black box’ of EU visa policy implementation concerning the processes and the outcomes of decision-making as well as the transnational influences on organizational action. I also discuss the contribution of the comprehensive implementation approach to the analysis of consular/local policy-making. Then, the conclusions address the perspectives for future research on three dimensions. First, the implementation of EU visa policy in other contexts than Morocco. Second, the archeology of the migratory ‘risk.’ Third, the nexus between knowledge of implementing personnel, communities of practice that extend across the boundaries of national organizations, and policy-making on the ground in the domain of migration and border control and beyond.
Federica Infantino

Backmatter

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