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BORDERLINES is a Research Group led by Carolyn Moser under the Minerva Fast Track scheme of the Max Planck Society (2019–2022). It explores the governance credentials of key security sectors in Europe—border management, cyber, and global health—from an interdisciplinary perspective.




The matrix of European security has drastically changed in the last decade. As a result, the ‘borderlines’ of EU security policies are shifting—in terms of space, time, and form. Indeed, EU states increasingly seek to tackle security problems early on and in faraway places, that is before they turn into actual threats, and they often use informal means to do so. These new realities pose, however, a range of governance challenges, such as weak democratic scrutiny, limited judicial review, and incomplete administrative control.

Against this backdrop, the borderlines sets out to explore the evolving governance features of EU security policies, with the aim of defining how an appropriate balance between security considerations and governance imperatives can been struck at the EU level. This comprehensive governance investigation rests on an interdisciplinary research design, combining legal analysis with political science research tools.

Photo credit: Dean Hochmann. License: CC BY 2.0

Starting point

The matrix of European security has drastically changed in the last decade. The EU finds itself in an increasingly challenging geopolitical situation. Suffice to mention the fading US commitment to NATO, Russia’s confrontational stance at Europe’s Eastern and Southern borders, Turkey’s ambivalent posture, and China’s assertive foreign policy, including in the EU’s neighbourhood. In addition, many of today’s vital security issues—such as malicious cyber activities, migratory streams, or pandemics—transcend traditional territorial borders and thus render multilateral efforts inevitable.

Key issue

To cope with these novel realities, the EU and its member states have incrementally adapted their laws and politics of security. Three intertwined factors have been key in this development, namely (i) space, (ii) time, and (iii) form. As far as space is concerned, states’ static territorial confines lose their significance, while more fluid and rather functional borders gain traction. Regarding time, we witness a temporal advancement of activities, which echoes the continuously broadening threat perception underpinning security policies. Hence, EU states increasingly seek to tackle security problems early on and in faraway places, that is before they turn into actual threats for EU states. This readjustment also leaves its mark on form, that is the legal and operational methods employed: informality together with a low level of transparency are pivotal to the new EU security matrix.


The reconfiguration of EU security policies, hence, prompts serious governance questions as it leaves us with a highly intricate governance architecture in which democratic scrutiny, judicial review, administrative control, and transparency are largely absent. Although the discrepancy between policy realities and governance requirements is not security specific—many EU policies first expand, while appropriate governance arrangements follow later—the perils deriving from an unsettled governance framework for security matters are particularly grave as security is at the very core of public power.


The objective of borderlines is to explore the evolving governance features of EU security policies, with the aim of defining how an appropriate balance between security considerations and governance imperatives can been struck at the EU level.The group, hence, pursues a two-fold goal. There is, first, an analytical aim as the project seeks both to disentangle the legal and policy features of specific European security policies and to explain how these features (re)configure the governance architecture in place in the EU and in third states. Secondly, the project pursues a prescriptive goal as it sets out to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the existing governance arrangements, with a view to making recommendations on possible improvements.

Research design

To achieve this two-fold objective, the borderlines project employs an interdisciplinary approach: an in-depth desk study of legal and official sources will be complemented by empirical data (gained through semi-structured interviews) which, in turn, is expected to lead to original conclusions that are of relevance to both legal scholars and political scientists.


The members of the borderlines group have diverse academic backgrounds. This interdisciplinarity, in turn, informs both the approach(es) and output of the research group.

 Dr Carolyn Moser

Dr Carolyn Moser

Head of group

Carolyn is specialized on the Law and Governance of Peace and Security. Trained in both law and political science at Sciences Po Paris and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University, USA), she holds a PhD from Utrecht University, for which she was awarded the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society. Her publications include a prize-winning monograph with OUP on accountability in EU security and defence (2020) and a co-edited book on the legal framework of the OSCE (CUP, 2019).

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 Dr Tarek Tutunji

Dr Tarek Tutunji

Post-doctoral researcher

Tarek Tutunji received his PhD in Political Science in 2019 from Johns Hopkins University with a dissertation on the emergence of informal rules around propaganda and covert action during the Cold War. His research focusses on informal institutions in world politics. He is currently studying the international institution developing around disinformation. He is particularly interested in understanding the emerging European regulatory framework to respond to the malicious manipulation of social media.

 Mohamed R. Abdelsalam

Mohamed R. Abdelsalam

Affiliated PhD candidate

Mohamed R. Abdelsalam is a PhD candidate and Lecturer at Sciences Po (Law School), and judge at the Egyptian Council of State (on leave). Since 2020, he has also acted as an Expert member at the Working Group on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights of the AU’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Mohamed holds undergraduate and graduate law degrees from Ain Shams University (Cairo) and an LLM from Loyola University (Chicago), and furthermore completed research stays at the MPIL (2019) and Harvard University (2019–20). Given his strong background in comparative legal studies, he contributes to the research of the group with a project on the interaction of EU–MENA legal regimes.

 Lukas Märtin

Lukas Märtin

Research assistant

Lukas has been a law student at the University of Heidelberg since autumn 2017. Motivated by his strong interest in European and international law, he interned at the European Parliament and, moreover, reached the final round of pleadings of the renowned European Law Moot Court Competition in his role as Advocate General. Hence, he joins the team with useful practice insights into the law and governance of EU institutions and processes.

Former team members

Rabia Ferahkaya — research assistant (2019–20)


  • The law and politics of EU cybersecurity, collaboration with Moritz Weiss and Felix Biermann (both LMU Munich), workshop in preparation
  • The interplay of EU and non-EU norms in the migratory context, cooperation with Mohamed Abdelsalam (Sciences Po Paris)
  • European integration and the phenomenon of (de-)constitutionalization, joint publication project with Berhold Rittberger, LMU Munich (publication forthcoming)
  • EU border management and the role of Frontex, Verfassungsblog symposium on 'Frontex—a rising star of declining Europe?' edited by Carolyn Moser, with contributions by Elisabeth Badenhoop, Florin Comad Kund, Rabia Ferahkaya, Samuel Hartwig, Constantin Hruschka, Lukas Märtin, Carolyn Moser, and Catharina Ziebritzki. [completed]


  • Moser, Carolyn, Accountability in EU Security and Defence—The Law and Practice of Peacebuilding. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2020, 336 p. available on OUP website
  • Moser, Carolyn, 'Hard Power Europe?', In: Heidelberg Journal of International Law (HJIL) 1, 1-12 (2020). Beck online
  • Moser, Carolyn, 'Eine kurze Einführung in Frontex'. Newsroom of the Max Planck Society, focus section '25 Years Schengen Area'; updated, enlarged and translated version of the Verfassungsblog post dated 3 February 2020, 20.03.2020.
  • 'Frontex—a rising star of declining Europe?', online symposium on the Verfassungsblog edited by Carolyn Moser
    • Hruschka, Constantin, 'Frontex and the duty to respect and protect human rights',, 07.02.2020
    • Moser, Carolyn, Ferahkaya, Rabia, and Märtin, Lukas, 'Frontex goes Africa: on pre-emptive border control and migration management',, 06.02.2020
    • Coman Kund, Florin, 'The territorial expansion of Frontex operations to third countries: on the recently concluded Status Agreements in the Western Balkans and beyond…',, 06.02.2020
    • Ziebritzki, Catharina, 'Refugee camps at EU external borders, the question of the Union’s responsibility, and the potential of EU public liability law',, 05.02.2020
    • Badenhoop, Elisabeth, 'Contextualising Frontex: A Long-Term Perspective on Database Monitoring of Migrants',, 04.02.2020
    • Hartwig, Samuel, 'Quo Vadis Frontex: Crossing the Fine Line Between Prevention and Repression?', 04.02.2020.
    • Moser, Carolyn, 'A very short introduction to Frontex—unravelling the trajectory of one of the EU’s key actors', 03.02.3020. 
  • Moser, Carolyn, 'Accountability in a multi-jurisdictional order', together with Gijs Jan Brandsma, in Scholten M. and Brenninkmeijer A. (eds), Controlling EU Agencies. The Rule of Law in a Multi-jurisdictional Legal Order (Edward Elgar, forthcoming) EE website
  • Moser, Carolyn, 'Loin de l’Union, loin des juges?—Sur les voies de recours juridictionnelles dans le cadre des activités de sécurité et de défense extraterritoriales de l’Union européenne'. In: Wechselseitige Einflüsse zwischen Rechtsordnungen am Beispiel des Zugangs zu Gerichten gegen das Handeln der Exekutive, Layla Kristina Jaber, Stefanie Lüer, Anne-Marie Thévenot-Werner (eds.). Schwarze Reihe. (Springer, forthcoming) Pre-print version
  • Moser, Carolyn, 'Integrating Contrasting Approaches: Civil–Military Cooperation in CSDP'. PeaceLab, 07.01.2020.
  • Moser, Carolyn, 'Frieden durch Recht aus französischer Perspektive' in Jäger S. and Heinz, W. (eds), Frieden durch Recht. Rechtstraditionen und Verortungen (Springer, 2020) SpringerLink
  • Moser, Carolyn, 'Two Become One? On the Civil–Military Amalgamation of the CSDP'., 30.03.2019. 

Conference papers and presentations

  • Moser, Carolyn & Rittberger, Berthold, The (de-)constitutionalization of EU security policies, commentary in the context of the workshop 'The transnational politics of emergencies', WZB, Berlin, June 2020
  • Moser, Carolyn, The External Dimension of EU Migration Control—A Security Perspective, invited talk at a conference of the Research Initiative on Migration of the Max Planck Society 'The Challenges of Migration and Integration', Munich, 17 June 2019
  • Moser, Carolyn, Lifting Pooling and Sharing to a Higher Level: The European Air Transport Command, presentation given at the 3rd Annual Conference of the European Initiative on Security Studies (EISS), Sciences Po, Paris, 27 June 2019
  • Moser, Carolyn, From safe distance to de facto convergence—Revisiting the civil-military nexus in EU security and defence, presentation at the workshop 'The European Union’s "New Defence Policy": European Military Integration in an Interdisciplinary Perspective', Justus Liebig Universität, Gießen, 18 January 2019