When refugees come closer: what borders mean for Dutch and German border residents
Borders and refugees are strongly intertwined. This can be clearly observed at the external and some of the internal borders of the EU which both became highly debated in recent years. Some states increasingly enhanced the control of their borders, while others announced to ‘open’ their borders and welcome refugees. For many, the ‘‘European refugee crisis’’ ensured a lot of worry and uncertainty. Also in Germany and the Netherlands, there was a lot of debate on this topic. But looking at the Dutch-German border, one can say that it physically does not exist anymore; it is open and stable. The question rises, whether and to what extent these events of displacement and crossing borders by thousands of ‘others’, affect the perception of border residents regarding the border(s) of ‘their’ perceived community. With the focus on the ‘perception of the border as a barrier’, this research contributes to a better understanding of the developments around the Dutch-German border. Based on a mixed-methods approach, the survey and interview results show that there is no clear relation between the perceptions studied. And although security ideas about e.g. ‘incompatible’ differences and ‘more’ borders controls are somewhat reflected in the perception about refugees, the (potential) barrier function of the border only plays a more important role when the safety of border residents is perceived to be compromised. Crossing the border with ease and being familiar with the ‘neighbors’, for now, overweighs the border’s (potential) barrier function.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen