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386 - My Kingdom for a Beer? Heineken's "Eurotopia"

May 26, 2009, 1:46 AM



Freddy Heineken (1923-2002), the Dutch tycoon who made his beer into a global brand, also was a dedicated Europhile. Towards the end of his life, he proposed reshuffling Europe’s national borders to strengthen the supranational project whose stated goal is an “ever closer union”.

Heineken collaborated with two historians to produce a booklet entitled “The United States of Europe, A Eurotopia?” The idea was timely, for two reasons. Eastern Europe was experiencing a period of turmoil, following the collapse of communism. The resulting wave of nationalism led to the re-emergence of several nation-states (i.e. the Baltics) and the break-up of several others (Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia). And in 1992, the Maastricht Treaty would transform an initially mainly economic “European Community” into a more political “European Union”.

Heineken’s proposal would lead to the creation of dozens of new European states, which would have a comparably small population size (mostly between 5 and 10 million), some basis in history, and for the most part would be ethnically homogenous.

The theory behind Heineken’s idea is that a larger number of smaller member-states would be easier to govern within a single European framework than a combination of larger states competing for dominance. Heineken might have been inspired by the work of Leopold Kohr, whose similar proposal was discussed earlier on this blog (#18).

Here is a list of countries proposed in the “Eurotopia” detailed by Heineken e.a., with their capital cities and population figures. Numbers correspond to the ones on the map:


1 Iceland      Reykjavik     252.000

2 Norway Oslo 4.200.000

3 Sweden Stockholm 8.500.000

4 Finland Helsinki 4.900.000

5 Denmark Copenhagen 5.100.000

British Isles

6 Scotland Edinburgh 5.100.000

7 Ireland Dublin 5.100.000

8 Northumbria York 8.000.000

9 Lancaster Manchester 5.400.000

10 Wales Cardiff 2.900.000

11 Mercia Birmingham 7.400.000

12 East-Anglia Cambridge 5.300.000

13 Essex London 8.300.000

14 Wessex Plymouth 5.900.000

15 Kent Southampton 5.400.000

Low countries/Central Europe

16 Holland-Zeeland The Hague 6.500.000

17 Ysselland Arnhem 6.000.000

18 Flanders/Vlaanderen Brussels 7.800.000

19 Hainaut/Henegouwen Lille/Rijssel 7.100.000

20 Schleswig-Holstein Hamburg 6.100.000

21 Hannover Bremen 7.900.000

22 Brandenburg Berlin 6.000.000

23 Sachsen Dresden 7.900.000

24 Westfalen Münster 7.900.000

25 Nordrheinland Düsseldorf 9.200.000

26 Thüringen Erfurt 8.300.000

27 Rhein-Moselland Mainz 5.100.000

28 Frankenland Nürnberg 5.100.000

29 Bavaria/Bayern Munich 6.000.000

30 Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart 9.600.000

31 Poznan/Posen Poznan 6.200.000

32 Silesia Wroclaw 8.200.000

33 Gdansk Gdansk 5.500.000

34 Warzawa Warsaw 7.600.000

35 Galicia Krakow 7.400.000

36 Bohemia Prague 6.300.000

37 Moravia Brno 4.000.000

38 Slowakia Bratislava 5.300.000

39 Austria Vienna 4.500.000

40 Noricum Graz 5.000.000


41 Picardy-Normandy Rouen 4.900.000

42 Ile-de-France Paris 10.300.000

43 Burgundy Nancy 8.000.000

44 Neustria Nantes 8.200.000

45 Aquitania Bordeaux 7.400.000

46 Auvergne Lyon 6.500.000

47 Provence Marseille 6.500.000


48 Galicia-Asturias Santiago de Compostela 4.400.000

49 Castilia Madrid 9.100.000

50 Navarre-Aragon Bilbao 4.100.000

51 Catalonia Barcelona 6.000.000

52 Valencia Valencia 5.500.000

53 Andalusia Sevillia 8.000.000

54 Portugal Lisbon 10.300.000


55 Switzerland Bern 6.600.000

56 Piedmont Torino 6.200.000

57 Lombardy Milan 8.900.000

58 Venice Venice 6.500.000

59 Tuscany Bologna 7.500.000

60 Umbria Rome 7.400.000

61 Apulia Bari 5.700.000

62 Naples Naples 8.600.000

63 Sicily Palermo 7.100.000


64 Hungary Budapest 10.600.000

65 Croatia Zagreb 4.600.000

66 Bosnia-Herzegovina Sarajevo 4.100.000

67 Serbia Belgrade 8.500.000

68 Albania Tirana 5.000.000

69 Transyvlvania Cluj-Napoca 7.500.000

70 Moldavia Bacau 5.000.000

71 Wallachia Bucharest 9.000.000

72 Bulgaria Sofia 8.900.000

73 Skopje Skopje 1.900.000

74 Greece Athens 10.300.000

75 Cyprus Nicosia 688.000

While an interesting conversation piece, Mr Heineken’s proposal is wildly improbable, as no EU member-state is eager to be dismembered or dissolved for the greater good. The Dutchman died in the year his “Eurotopia” plan was published. The European Union has since continued to expand eastwards, becoming ever more unwieldy as the number of member states increased. Whether chopping up larger states into smaller ones with less historical baggage would make the decision-making process within the EU easier or more difficult, will probably remain a purely academic question.

Many thanks to Theo Hoebink for sending in this map and Marc Vlek, Jan Noordam and others for also suggesting it.


386 - My Kingdom for a Beer...

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