Drawing a Better Europe

There are times when geography can get seriously in the way of making Europe the sort of perfectly rationalized utopia dreamed of by European bureaucrats when they stare in frustration at the continent’s map from behind their Brussels desks. Whole nations are plagued by inconvenient borders drawn by statesmen long dead. Countries can be out of sync with their neighbors’ ties and cultures. And some wonderful states that should exist sadly don’t. Fortunately, The Economist has a plan.

“The European map is outdated and illogical,” notes the British newspaper. Rejigging it would make life friendlier.

The United Kingdom, for one, with its public finances in such dire state, deserves to be in the company of Southern European countries as Portugal and Spain. Moving the island would also present a perfect opportunity to split it up, with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all separated from England.

In its place comes Poland “which has suffered quite enough in its location between Russia and Germany and deserves a chance to enjoy the bracing winds of the North Atlantic and the security of sea water between it and any potential invaders.” The Baltic States could come along as they would be perfectly happy to be farther from Russia and closer to the United States.

Belgium’s tiresome language squabbles are redolent of Central Europe at its worst, especially the nonsenses Slovakia thinks up for its Hungarian minority. So the country should swap places with the Czech Republic. “The stolid, well organized Czechs would get on splendidly with their new Dutch neighbors,” predicts The Economist — “and vice versa.”

With Switzerland allocated to the more neutral regions of the north, where Norway would surely welcome another non-European Union friend next door, there is room for Austria, Slovenia and Croatia to move northwest where they might join part of Italy in something of an alliance, preferably run by a new doge from Venice. The Italian south, continually plagued by corruption, should go its own way and form a sad little kingdom nicknamed Bordello. “It could form a currency union with Greece but nobody else.”

Particularly interesting shifts are occurring in Eastern Europe where, with the Baltic troika gone, Belarus, “currently landlocked and trying to wriggle out from under Russia’s thumb,” moves to the sea while Ukraine gets bumped north. The Economist hopes that, with the Ukrainian border now just one hundred kilometers removed from Berlin, Germany would finally have to start taking the country’s European integration seriously. A pleasant side effect is the relocation of Kaliningrad to Russian territory.

Some inevitable shuffling would happen on the Balkans of course, notably the moving of Macedonia a little further away from Greece. The Economist considers Bosnia “too fragile” to move though.

All this leaves room for the creation of a series of valuable new states, including romantic Ruritania, properly near Bohemian territory; the lands of Borduria and Syldavia, famously visited by Belgian journalist Tintin in the recent past; and the fine barony of Vulgaria, fitting in the Eastern European heartland.

The rest of us can stay put.