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Lesson 6.7: Fortress Europe or a Euro-Mediterranean


Lesson 6.7: Fortress Europe or a Euro-Mediterranean


Topic 4: Patterns of Population & Expressing Identity—Migration


This lesson, in contrast to the previous one on guest workers and early post-WWII migration, focuses on recent movement to the European Union (EU) nations from the region. The EU has received praise for constructing a lasting peace on a war-ravaged continent. Overcoming French-German antagonism, as well as overcoming the East-West divide, the Union has been able to develop common legislation on many issues, forging what can be seen as a United States of Europe. This development of an ‘ever-closer’ Union fundamentally challenges the Mediterranean’s historic role as a common space of interaction among its inhabitants. The history of the EU’s accession and incorporation of Mediterranean States can be seen as a positive development, integrating countries that recently had authoritarian regimes into a family of democratic states. The Common Market’s agreements on subsidies, as well as the common coin, unleashed massive economic growth in Southern Europe - which we now know generated a very risky downward turn after the 2008 Credit Crisis.This lesson focuses on new barriers that run through the Mediterranean, and the concept of “Fortress Europe,” mirroring similar exclusion efforts along other borders such as the US/Mexico border and water migration routes through the Caribbean Sea.

Essential Questions

• Was the growth of the European Union a good or bad thing for the Mediterranean?

• What were the consequences for the Mediterranean for an “ever-closer” European Union?

• What are the pro’s and con’s of “Fortress Europe”?

• What role did issues like ‘prosperity’ and ‘security’ play in the creation of Europe’s common border policy?


Jonathan Even-Zohar and Craig Perrier


Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: A World History Curriculum Project for Educators


Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University




2014, Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University, published under Creative Commons – Attribution-No Derivatives 3.0 License


1-2 class periods (depending on configuration as individual or group work, and extension activities)


• Students will describe the effects of the European Union’s formation on opportunities for human migration in the Mediterranean.

• They will analyse the validity of the concept of “Fortress Europe”

• They will explain migration issues using statistical sources

• They will describe the mechanism behind push- and pull factors in migration and apply them to specific and general cases.

• They will describe the effects of multilateral/inter-governmental organisation

• They will assess the fairness of the balance between security and freedom of movement across borders;

• They will account for calls to close countries’ borders and explain the problems that would occur if they did so.


• Student Handout 6.7.1 Recent journeys to Europe

• Student Handout 6.7.2 Illegal in Europe

• Student Handout 6.7.3 Fate of Migrants & the Big Picture

Lesson Plan Text

1. Activity A - How to Enter a Fortress Study sources 1-6, Student Handout 6.7.1 and 6.7.2 to understand the pathways of modern migrants escaping economic and political difficulties in lands bordering Mediterranean and beyond, coming overland or by sea. Have the students read and view the resources and discuss the questions, either in small groups or individually. As before in the earlier lesson, focus on the push and pull factors. Contrast the “pull” factors in recent years, which may be in the imaginations of the migrants and their families, vs. the earlier active recruitment of migrants by European governments. In discussing the Melilla frontier and Lampeduaza Island, focus on the geographic location of these outposts and their characteristics as places, using the two maps.

2. Activity B - the bigger picture Use Student Handout 6.7.3 on the Fate of Migrants and Student Handout 6.7.4 on the Big Picture to illuminate death data, the European border agency and security policy. The text sources, maps, and images in this lesson dramatically illustrate the change in European immigration policies and security responses to refugees and immigrants from the Mediterranean and global South. Students may work individually and in groups to read and view the resources and reflect on the questions. Encourage the students in discussion to think about the whole trajectory from the previous lesson to the current situation.

3. Extension: If there is time, or if individual students are interested, have them research additional aspects of immigration, such as approximate numbers of immigrants of different ethnicities and faiths who have come to European countries from Mediterranean and other destinations.

4. Additional resources:

• UNHCR Google Earth Layer -; UNHCR also has annual reports on Asylum seekers:

• Official documentary series on the UK Border Agency “From the Frontlines of Control …. and ANTI-FRONTEX movie: ; Promo for Frontex movie “beyond borders”

• Following the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia, many Tunisians sought to obtain work in France, and in a clear view of the crisis of European Cooperation, the French temporarily closed the border – against European treaties – short TV report explains:

5. Activity B - a Union for the Mediterranean: Reading & Timeline: Browse through the history page on the official website of the EU ( and create a short timeline of the growth of the EU

• Establishment of European Neighbourhood Policy (ENPI). See “EU Neighbourhood Info Centre.”

• “EUROPA - The History of the European Union.”

• Study policies on European border agents - Critical Chronology of European Migration Policies: (NGO Migreurop, 2013 Edition)



Jonathan Even-Zohar and Craig Perrier, “Lesson 6.7: Fortress Europe or a Euro-Mediterranean,” Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: Teaching Modules , accessed January 19, 2018,

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