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Working paper

Schengen Borders in Practice: Facts about Finland (and Russia)

This article attempts to solve the empirical puzzle posed by the way the Finnish diplomatic missions issue Schengen visas to the Russians. Building on the theory of the Self and the Other, a theoretical expectation about the uniformity of the Schengen visa regime is brought forward and further checked against the legal reality of the European Union common visa policy and the Finnish-Russian visa issuance arrangements. The case study of the experience that the Finns have with the Russians coming to their territory and history of the Finnish-Russian relations is carried out to dismantle the panoply of motives and meanings laying behind a particular visa regime and to show how the interplay of various political, economic and social factors works to produce peculiar policy outcomes. The main findings prove that despite both theoretical expectations and legal rules governing the Schengen borders and visas, in practice different member states apply the ‘common’ regime differently depending on both economic rationale and historical memories.