Domestic Borders of Europe

Tommaso Rada

2015 - 2019

Since the creation of the European Union (EU) one of the goal has been the unification of the different countries belonging to the EU and the abolishment of the frontiers between these countries. The Schengen treaty stipulated in 1985 have had the aims to gradually create an EU without borders, later in 1990 with the Schengen Agreement finally eliminate the borders between European countries allowing the free movement of people across the several European countries and the abolition of internal border controls.

In the last decade separatist movements grow up all across Europe, the economical differen- ces between the European countries increased, the foreign politics aren’t common for all the countries, in a period in witch Europe should consolidate his union new obstacles and challenges appear.

The domestic borders of Europe, now – after the Schengen Treaty and with the European uni- fication — are gone. Just mountains, rivers and imaginary historical lines, are what have left: a liquid frontier between apparently distinct countries. The rivers, the mountains, the history trapped in the places define the communities, the interaction and the contacts between the people of two neighbouring countries, where the territory and the communities shape reciprocally around a specific space – physical, human and cultural – that get dissolved in the same rivers, mountain places that divide them. Empty of its political value, from a strange limbo made of controls and checkpoints the domestic borders become just a line on a map. The emptiness of the frontier, that have should fill of new life and new dy- namics after the unification, get reflected in the territory, the time get stopped and while the world around is changing, on the border the space is assuming a proper physiognomy, and the time is sometimes frozen. “Domestic Borders” becomes a route where each photos is a stop on the way, not searching for answer but interrogating the social reality, the relations between habitants and the territory and the meaning of Europe today. “Domestic Borders” ends up being an unusual and unexpected trip, a dystopian portrait of the relationships between and across the border, showing the challenges of living in an unique space with a different passage of time.

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  • Bulgaria, Nikopol. February 2016. A view of Turno Magurele industrial area. Turno Magurele industries caused a massive pollution of the area. At the beginning of the 2000s, many inhabitants of the Bulgarian town Nikopol owned gas masks because the high air pollution caused by the fertiliser factory on the Romanian side of the Danube.

  • Romania, Giurgiu. February 2016. A man working as security guard stand on a barrack in front of an abandoned factory that he watch.

  • France, La Mongie. May 2017. A view of a building belonging to a ski resort. According to the European Environment Agency, Europe’s mountain regions may suffer some of the most severe impacts of climate change. Increasing temperatures can change snow-cover patterns and lead to water shortages and other problems such as reduced ski tourism.

  • Spain, Cardona. May 2017. A view of a mountain of salt, a geological unique of the Pyrenees. In the area the salt mining has been the main activity for decades. The excessive extortion of salt caused the contamination of the aquifer ground.

  • Germany, Seebad Prora. July 2019. Germans visit the Sea resort complex under renovation in Seebad Prora. The complex was built by Nazi Germany between 1936 and 1939 as a beach resort. It consisted of eight identical buildings and was 4.5 km in length parallel to the beach, with the surviving structures stretching 3.0 km.
    Although the buildings were planned as a holiday resort, construction was not completed and they were not used for this purpose. During the Allied bombing campaign, many people from Hamburg took refuge in one of the housing blocks, and later refugees from the east of Germany were housed there. By the end of the war, these buildings housed female auxiliary personnel for the Luftwaffe. The Soviet Army’s 2nd Artillery Brigade occupied block 5 of Prora from 1945 to 1955. After 1956 the buildings became a restricted military area housing several East German Army units. After the German re-unification the building was first supposed to be demolished and them it became a landmark building. In 2013, a German company bought the rights to refurbish Prora and market the units as summer homes, refurbished apartments in complex were on sale for as much as 700,000 euros ($900,000) apiece.

  • Czech Republic, Most. A view of State Chateau Jezeří and of Povrchový lom mine. is an opencast brown coal mine located in the North Bohemian Basin of the Czech Republic in the area known in Czech as Mostecko that lies between the city of Most and the town of Litvínov. In 1964, the Most Coal Company began the demolition of the historical old town of Most in order to make room for the expanding lignite mines in the area. Financed and led by the Communist government of Czechoslovakia, the company pulled down the town’s historic buildings including. New low-cost, standardised, multifamily housing projects were built. Most lost almost all its historical landmarks. Most is part of the region named Black Triangle. The Black Triangle is a border region shared by Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, long characterised by extremely high levels of pollution.

  • Portugal, Vilanova de Santo Antonio. May 2015. The Guardian River trace the border between Spain and Portugal for around 110 km, along this distance there are only 2 bridges and 2 ferry services that make possible the border crossing.

  • Bulgaria, Petrich. February 2016. Workers in a shoes factory. Several factories in Bulgaria are working for Italian and Greece clients because the cheap labour cost. According to Clean Clothes Campaign 2014 Report “in the region of Petrich half of the population sews clothing and shoes under “ishleme” orders from greek agents for renowned brands and retailers. This is the major source of income in the region – next to border trade and prostitution”.
    Workers earns 350 bgn (179 eur) net, which includes an average of 5 hours of overtime every day. This wage does not even cover her food expenses for the family.

  • Romania, Giurgiu. February 2016. A border policemen check the level of CO2 inside a track to detect the presence of illegal migrants. Most of the migrants passing through Bulgaria and Romania want to reach Germany, meaning that neither Bulgaria nor Romania are destination country but they are transit one. Since the beginning of the Syria War Romania and Bulgaria started an anti-migrant policy. In Bulgaria Immigration detention centres and a fence between Bulgaria and Turkey were built; on the other side, Romania voted against the relocation quotas for refugees within the European Union.

  • Germany, Altotting. July 2019. A Bavarese family is seen at the Altotting Sanctuary, a German symbol for Catholics believers.

  • Romania, Orsova. February 2016. A communist style monument with a wrote welcoming refugees.

  • Belgium, Bastogne. July 2019. American tourists shoot picture at the Mardasson Memorial that commemorate the Battle of the Bulge happened during the Second World War in which between 63000 and 98000 German soldiers and 89500 American soldiers were killed, wounded, missing or captured.

  • Luxembourg, Luxembourg. July 2019. Tourists are seen in Luxembourg city center. In 2011, according to IMF, Luxembourg was the second richest country in the world. Its economy is mainly based in banking and finance. Luxembourg is the world’s second largest investment fund centre. In 2009, the country entered in G20 grey list because its banking secrecy laws, as well as its reputation as a tax haven.

  • Greece, Serrai. February 2016. Abandoned petrol station. The Greek Macedonia is one of the poorest region of the country.

  • Poland, Świnoujście. July 2019. A view of Fort Zachodni. In the years 1945–1971 the West Fort was occupied by the Soviet Navy. The Russians built three bunkers here with cannon outlets for coastal tower cannons and a steel fire control tower next to the German concrete bunker. They also created guard bunkers no longer existing on the fort’s ramparts. Today the Fort host a museum and several cafes.

  • Germany, Chemnitz. July 2019. A view of the city. During the Second World War the allied forces discharged 7360 tons of bombs on Chemnitz because it was present the factory of Panzer VI Tiger I motors. The offensive left the city in ruins. After the war, under the DDR, the city was re-named Karl-Marx-Stadt and rebuilt to symbolise the conceptions of urban development of a socialist city. In recent years, Chemnitz has been the stage of several neo-nazi demonstrations.

  • Bulgaria, Svilengrad. February 2016. A petrol station with photos of Putin and Harley Davidson. A percentage of Bulgarian is not happy with the entrance of Bul- garian in the European Union and would prefer a closer alliance with Russia. In the last years several European Countries opened to a closer alliance with Russia.

  • Czech Republic, Frantiskovy Lazne. July 2019. A view of a luxury hotel room of Frantiskovy Lazne Spa town read the paper inside the thermal structure. The town was founded in 1793 and until World War I it hosted aristocrats, writers and others notable people. With the great depression Frantiskovy Lazne the town lost most of its patronage and started the decline of the place; after World War II most of the Germans living in the town were expelled under the the Benes decrees and the spa was nationalised under the rule of the Communist Party. After the Velvet Revolution and the fall of the Communist Party, a company named Lazne Franzensbad, owned mainly by one family, bought the the Spa facilities. Today most of the tourist visiting Frantiskovy Lazne are Germans.

  • Germany, Rickelbuller Koog. July 2019. A view on the border between Germany and Denmark. Dermark built a 70 km fence along its border with Germany to protect its pigs from disease-carrying wild boar coming from Germany. Export in Denmark’s pork industry totalled 4 billion Euros in 2016, the Denmark autho- rities decide to build the fence to prevent the spreading of the African swine fever.

  • Italy, Ventimiglia. May 2017. A migrant stands in fron of the Mediterranean Sea close to the Border between Italy and France. France intensify the controls on the border with Italy suspending the Schengen Treaty. The migrants that try to cross illegally the border between Italy and France have to hike several hills and ford at least one river; the trails is quite difficult and, according to the NGO Anafé, in 2018 at least 30 migrants died trying to cross the border.