Drawing a Better Europe

The European map is outdated and illogical. Rejigging it would make life friendlier.

There are times when geography can get in the way of making Europe the sort of perfectly rationalized utopia imagined 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 ago. Countries can be out of sync with their neighbors’ ties and cultures. And some wonderful states that should exist don’t.

Fortunately, The Economist has a plan.

“The European map is outdated and illogical,” according to the British newspaper.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

The United Kingdom, for one, with its public finances in such dire straits, deserves to be in the company of Southern European countries, like 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 move along. They would be 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 a non-EU 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, 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.”

Interesting shifts would occur 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 away from Berlin, Germany would finally take 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, notably moving Macedonia a little farther away from Greece. The Economist considers Bosnia “too fragile” to move, though.

All this leaves room for the creation of 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, right in the Eastern European heartland.

The rest of us can stay put.

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