International Summer School
Erasmus Intensive Programme


Theme 2012:
Borders Of Europe: The Old and New Europe

Hosting institution:
Masaryk University, Brno

Local Organizing Committee

Academic Director:
Katerina Uhlirova


Project Coordinator:
Eva Koleckova




The theme is the “Borders  of Europe”. The European project brought down borders within Europe, but the issue of Europe’s Borders remains central. The projection of European influence beyond its borders, and Europe’s relationship with the wider world, are vital concerns (foreign and security policy, trade and development, democratisation policies). The movement of persons within Europe and from outside of Europe highlights the importance of the questions of immigration, integration and multiculturalism. Meanwhile, the Borders of Europe have shifted dramatically since the collapse of the Iron Curtain, with the expansion of EU borders to include 27 states.

These issues have been fundamental to the project to reform the EU treaties, and their importance is only underlined by global challenges, be they economic or security related. These challenges raised by the “Borders of Europe” cannot be addressed from any one national viewpoint, or from any one disciplinary perspective. There are valuable lessons to be learned from different disciplines such as Anthropology, History, Law, Political Science and Philosophy.

In 2012 the Summer School will focus on the theme of "The Old and New Europe". The School will include speakers who knew and worked with the late Vaclav Havel (for more on his life click here).


‘RECALLING the historic importance of the ending of the division of the European continent and the need to create firm bases for the construction of the future Europe’ (Preamble, Treaty of Lisbon)

When new countries became members of the European Union, it was thought that the historical divisions of Europe created after 1945 by the big powers, and retained until the collapse of communist regimes in Central and Eastern European countries, had finally been overcome. But were they really?

New Europe was described as “a phenomenon of the mind, of the collective memory, of national traumas and longings” (Karl Schlögel). These “borders in mind” reflect different historical experience between Old and New Europe, which still affects and shapes countries’ attitudes in various areas. After all, terms “Old” and “New” Europe were  originally used in order to distinguish the countries’ support of the 2003 use of force in Iraq. This heterogeneity of European attitudes relating to transatlantic security thus provides a telling example that Europe is not united.   

While it is true that borders inside the European Union are losing their significance and some of their functions, borders by no means become irrelevant. In fact, the relevance of state borders (for re-establishing sovereignty) grew for some newly independent states after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. In general, it is possible to witness certain processes of re-structuring and re-bordering of Europe in a new way (e.g. higher security on the outside borders of European Union through stricter immigration controls).

As for possible reunification of Europe, as also reaffirmed by the Treaty of Lisbon, New Europe is in general in support of further enlargement. Many states in Old Europe are however questioning future expansion connecting it with opening further borders to cheaper labour and products. In fact, with the current euro crisis, some states (and their citizens) are becoming sceptical not only about future enlargement and integration, but about the future of European Union itself.

The aim of this summer school is to discuss, in the light of current developments, the perception of borders in  Europe today and whether the borders between Old and New Europe are really gone. It will be done on a multidisciplinary basis, by conceptualizing and analyzing border (un)making as a historical, political, legal, socio-economical as well as mental phenomenon. Among the issues and questions which can be addressed are: What are the forms and functions of borders? Did the perception of borders shift over time? What new divisions can we witness in Europe today? What are the implications/consequences of these new divisions? Are these divisions serving some (specific) political interests? How does gender, ethnicity or historical memory contribute to border (un)making? How successful is the process of the re-establishment of the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, in New Europe? 


The IP builds on the considerable experience of the Utrecht Network and the universities in the Network in running an IP funded summer school on Democracy, Inclusion and Active Citizenship – see for details of this.