Externalisation of eu Borders through Cooperation with Libya: Italy as a Gateway to the European Dream


  • Selcen Oner Bahcesehir University
  • Mattia Cirino LUISS University (M.A.)


Irregular Migration, Italy, Libya, European Union, Mediterranean Sea, Sea Rescue NGOs.


This article argues that cooperation between Italy and Libya with EU support, have accelerated and deepened especially after the migration crisis in 2015. The introduction of Italy-Libya Memorandum of Understanding (2017) to fight against irregular migration has externalized the EU’s borders and transformed the Mediterranean Sea into limes. The conceptual and analytical framework is based on territorial implications of Europeanisation of migration and particularly the concept of limes which refers to drawing a line to maintain a distinction between stability and order within and disorder outside (Walters, 2004). The article focuses on Italy, which is one of the countries most affected by the crisis as it is located on the EU’s external Mediterranean border. The study draws on semi-structured, in-depth, face-to-face interviews conducted in Italy in the first half of 2019 with the members of the Chamber of Deputies from various political parties, sea rescue NGO representatives in Italy, a representative from UNHCR Italy, and a mayor from southern Italy. The interviews reveal various metaphors and narratives such as “Italy has been left alone” because of solidarity crisis in the EU and “Italy as a gateway to Europe” for analysing Italy’s role in externalizing EU borders through cooperation with Libya.