Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 90–103 | Cite as

Practical continentalism: North America, territorial security and the European model

  • Ruben ZaiottiEmail author


The lack of formal regional security institutions and the persistence of national border controls seems to indicate that in North America, unlike Europe, a truly post-national approach to territorial security has failed to materialise. Recent policy experiments with territorial security in the USA, Canada and Mexico, however, are not as removed from their transatlantic counterparts as is often claimed. This paper contends that a kind of practical continentalism underlies the governance of territorial security on both sides of the Atlantic. This system of governance has not completely displaced the state-centric model upon which the modern approach to territorial security is based. It has, however, reformulated some of its core principles, resulting in a more complex and regionalised model of territorial security. To illustrate this argument, this paper first presents the key principles underlying the approach to territorial security that has emerged in North America after 9/11, highlighting the parallels with the European experience. It then considers some of this approach’s most relevant policy applications and compares them to initiatives proposed on the other side of the Atlantic. This paper concludes by exploring possible future scenarios characterising relations between North America and Europe over territorial security, and, in particular, the prospect for further transatlantic convergence in this policy field.


territorial security North America Europe transatlantic relations continentalism 


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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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