The Relevance of Boundaries

There has been considerable discussion over the past three decades on the need to make borders between nation-states irrelevant. While these demands for open borders between nation-states have a long history, there has been a renewed vigour to such arguments after the Maastricht treaty and the emergence of the European Union (EU). The dilution of the borders in Europe was the consequence of the reconciliation among European nation-states following two devastating world wars. Furthermore, the EU member states shared similar political systems, and several among them were part of the NATO security pact. While the EU has softened borders between member states, it has also created a rigid EU border, which is not easy to breach. Refugees from North Africa and the Middle East perish in large numbers in the Mediterranean Sea trying to enter Europe. The EU has not obliterated the idea of ‘boundary’. Instead, the EU has merely shifted its location and created a new boundary between itself and the rest of the world. The EU’s example of pooled sovereignty has not been emulated elsewhere, not least in Asia where regional institutions like ASEAN comprise sovereign nation states on whose internal affairs ASEAN does not exercise any jurisdiction.

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