A Future Framented Europe?

The folks over at ComingAnarchy.com came up with the map below as a projection of what new states could emerge from Europe by 2020.

I don’t know if the guy who made it happened to stop by the Autonomist and Secessionist Movements list on Wikipedia (and its a beauty) and started extrapolating but, to throw my two cents in, I find it highly doubtful that any of these splits will occur. As people know from my posts a long time ago on Kosovo’s independence, I’m not the biggest fan of state devolution. Borders are arbitrary and tend to cause more tension than relieve it which is why I think diplomacy and efforts at equal rights and reconciliation are more important than declaring yourself a separate entity.

The separate states on the map are currently part of economically stable nations and, despite having strong language or ethnic identities, would probably still benefit from being part of those countries rather than seeking to make their own way in this already fragmented world. For those seeking more autonomy within these developed nation-states, they have mostly worked it out diplomatically and even taken it to near extremes, such as the case in Belgium where they have separate institutions for Flemish and French-speaking citizens, nominally having to nations in one. I’ve always found that rather ironic as it is the home of the European Union which is supposed to be bringing diverse groups together but that’s for another article.

In the case of Spain, the author clearly ignored that Spain, since the Reconquista, has existed as a loose federation of communities with varying autonomy anyway. The Basque may be the most well-known secessionist movement there but most of the regions have some people who mutter about seceding with only a few frustrated people taking it to more violent steps. Currently, I think that the people of many of these nations have put aside inter-regional separatism for the greater fear of the mass of poor immigrants that are flooding into their countries, especially Spain with the bodies of African immigrants literally washing up onshore or France with the unrest and poverty in its banlieues.

The article is interesting for speculative purposes but ignores the real problems in the further east of Europe and the very real potential of violence that could exasperate efforts at peace and reconciliation in the region. The author stated that he didn’t want to talk about those areas but, given that I find it more interesting than redrawing maps from the 1500s, I will.

Europe 1560

Europe 1560

Republica Srpska (as one commenter pointed out) would be a likely candidate on such a map. The Trasnistrian Republic remains a forgotten about part for most people but a place of continued Russian support wedged between Moldova and Ukraine. One of the most distinctive problems would be the question of Ukraine, which is well-divided not only by language (the West speaking mostly Ukrainian, the East Russian), political divides (West with the West, East with Russia) but also economically. Given that the majority of European energy flows through pipes in Ukraine, the stability of that country is of major concern to the governments of most, if not all, European nations. Also, another forgotten about nation is Belarus, still ruled by a dictator and transit point for oil and gas from Russia as well. What will happen once this regime falls? Will it rejoin Russia or will their be an independence movement of some sort?

Most of the author’s speculation is derived from agreement with the idea that “regions of today’s states are trying to maximize the economic benefits of globalization while minimizing the social costs, leading to richer regions breaking from poorer ones.” That’s not really what we have seen in Europe in the recent past. It has mostly either been from political breakdown or lack of minority rights (or the fear thereof) that has led to much of the violence in relatively impoverish countries. The countries that breakaway still remain poor, only supported from international organizations and secured with international military forces. It could make sense, in a very cutthroat capitalist way, for the wealthier regions to break away and stop supporting the least successful parts of a nation but I have a feeling that in Europe a greater belief in social responsibility temper the greedy, bottom-line economics that dominate the thoughts and governments of some other nations.


via Robert Wright filling in for Andrew “Sully” Sullivan


  1. Ian

    I’m reminded of the Daily Show piece about Long Island becoming its own state, maybe about 6 weeks ago. The point of it was just because you are wealthier, or perhaps even have a different culture, you are not distinctly separate and do not “deserve” your own state. Those aren’t and shouldn’t be the criteria for independence. I would argue independence is justified by serious abuses of a specific people by the government in power, be them ongoing or relatively recent abuses.

  2. Jordan

    Yeah, I’m not a normal reader of Coming Anarchy, but I can see some sort libertarian impulse in having states slough away into smaller entities passed solely on economics. Maybe the guy just finished “Snow Crash” or something.