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Boston University School of Law




A reflection on the existential loss experienced by many young persons in the aftermath of the Euro-zone crisis (often referred to as ‘the lost generation’) must also acknowledge, for the record and for reasons of relative salience, those who have recently drowned in the waters of southern Europe in their quest for a better future. This essay proposes to reconsider, for a moment, the relation between the obstacles that third country nationals (TNCs) encounter at our external frontiers and the increasing permeability of internal EU borders. Normally, one thinks of the two as structurally opposed: within its boundaries, the EU dismantles checkpoints and fosters the bonding of its citizens; but precisely in order to enable the communal experience of insiders, the EU strengthens its external borders and digs an ever deeper chasm between the European self and the TNC other. In contrast to this conceptual frame, this essay characterizes the internal and external EU attitudes as aligned and even chronologically parallel. With Lampedusa as an illustration, these pages posit that a link exists between the lost at sea and the particular juridical discourse that has characterized the EU’s response to the Euro-zone crisis. This discourse, enshrined in primary and secondary legislation as well as judicial opinions, has managed to lock in, bless, and codify the fear – or phobia – of sharing finite resources. It is a discourse that normalizes tragedy and localizes problems, even when, for structural reasons, solutions at the local level are simply non-existent.


Published as: "Lost at Sea," 15 German Law Journal 1197 (2014). [Special Section: Europe and the Lost Generation]

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