The discussions about various borders in and of Europe and the openness or closeness of the continent they indicate, have intensified in the past years. The development of the European Union, bringing together twenty-eight countries into the most integrated regional structure in the world, adds a further layer to the debate, particularly on how the integration process contributes to abolishing both material and ideational borders within the EU and between the EU and the rest of the world. Does the EU have the capacity to project its values and standards and strengthen security guarantees beyond its member states? Do institutions and actors at the levels of the EU and the EU member states play a role in taming (often violent) conflicts outside Europe, as well as effectively reacting to tendencies of democratic breakdown on the continent? Furthermore, are various types of institutions and the ways they may exercise impact relevant for strengthening and safeguarding democratic standards? The contributions in this panel address some of these questions via more specific individual and comparative case studies.