Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Where Does Europe End?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 17th April, 2007

european-union.pngIn Cyprus for 24 hours, en route to London, I’m enjoying using the local currency for what will probably be my last time, as Cyprus will join the euro next 1 January. Slovenia pipped Cyprus at the post on this, among the new member states, as it managed to organise itself for membership of the single currency at the beginning of this year. All of the others will follow suit when they meet the necessary conditions. But what about Britain, Mr Brown?

Even more amazing was that Cyprus managed to get into the European Union before the three-decades-old division of the island has been ended. I long for the day when there is a just settlement here, and both communities can feel at home throughout the shared island and within the European Union. There are deep wounds in both communities, but one hopes that a new generation will commit itself to peaceful coexistence and mutual respect, as well to a normalisation of relations with an increasingly  democratic Turkey.

In the meantime, when some people in Austria, France and Germany, in particular, object to the prospect of Turkey’s joining the EU, on the grounds that Turkey is not in Europe, I invite them to look at the map. If Turkey can’t be considered part of Europe, where is Cyprus? However, there is a serious, real issue about where Europe ends. In the north the limit is clearly the Arctic circle, and in the West the Atlantic Ocean. In the south it is the Mediterranean Sea (including the Straits of Gibraltar). But what about in the east? I remember at school being taught that Europe ends at the Ural mountains, but on the basis of that definition, the EU could take in not only Ukraine and Belarus, but Russia as well! A line has to be drawn somewhere. But as yet, despite the EU’s neighbourhood policy with countries adjacent to current member states, no-one has really bitten the bullet and defined Europe’s boundaries clearly.

One Response to “Where Does Europe End?”

  1. tinter said

    The EU is a political union, so there is no need to pick any arbitary geographic ending. Rather, the EU should stop taking new members when doing so becomes counterproductive. This may be for any number of reasons- lack of econmic potential, differing political systems, faliure in EU administration (even more than now!).
    So long as it is benefical to the EU to accept a new member, it should do so. I have yet to see a convincing case that the expansion has had negative effects, and hope to see further countrys join in the future.
    Sometimes, even if it is not benefical to the EU it may be worthwhile- what price peace in the Balkans, for example, even it was economically a bad choice for the EU?
    On the other hand, we are beggining to see the politcal ends of the EU. Its difficult to see any country beyond Ukraine joining, and given the current situation I would say the same for Ukraine itself. Russia certainly won’t, it wants to be a power of its own. North Africa isn’t intrested, and in Turkey the travails in the middle east and hostility from some nations has led to intrest in joining the EU among their public dropping dramatically. It may well be the Balkans will be the last big step, at least for some time to come.

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