Where does Europe end?

09 Nov

he term ‘Europe’ is fuzzy. Unlike Australia or Canada, the area it denotes has no obvious limits (EU, single market, continent) so its definition remains unfixed. This uncertainty is a problem and an advantage, for it creates a dynamic; the policies of Europe’s nations determine the geography of the whole. A particular policy implies particular limits — who should be in the eurozone? What will happen after Brexit? Where should migration be controlled? A particular limit such as continuous expansion or differentiation implies a particular configuration: a union of states and peoples, or a federation of nation states.Geographically, Europe is defined by the Ural mountains and river to the east, the river Aras to the southeast, and the straits of Gibraltar and the Bosphorus to the south. These limits, established in popular consciousness, come from decisions taken in specific historical circumstances. Without Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s resistance in Thrace, the Bosphorus would also be a geopolitical limit. If Sebastian I of Portugal had won the Battle of the Three Kings in 1578, Europe’s southern border would not be the strait of Gibraltar, but somewhere between the southern Rif and Rabat.

Source: Where does Europe end?, by Michel Foucher (Le Monde diplomatique – English edition, November 2016)

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Posted by on November 9, 2016 in European Union


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