86 - A Map of Germany's Euroregions
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
It seems impossible to find an online map showing all of the European Union’s so-called Euroregions. Why doesn’t the EU showcase these transnational regions, conceived to promote economic development and cultural understanding among neighbours that too often in the past have been strangers or enemies? Maybe because the concept is too utopian, or the results are just too plain boring?
Many if not most EU citizens reside in a Euroregion, yet they probably would be hard-pressed to name theirs. One main reason for this is that Euroregions tend to bind together areas that are historically, culturally and economically distinct and don’t share much more than a border. This might a deliberate attempt to create a new European structure other than that of the old nation-states, which proved so destructive over the course of two World Wars.
\nConversely, great pains seem to have been taken to avoid setting up transnational regions that might re-awaken lingering conflicts or re-ignite irredentist claims. For example, there is no ‘Basque Euroregion’. In fact, the only Spanish-French Euroregion includes just about every border region except the Basque areas of both countries.
This deliberate artificiality is reminiscent of the way the French Revolution did away with the established regions of France in an attempt to create a unitary, centralised state: by breaking the handful of ancient provinces up into almost a hundred small départements which stressed geographic features rather than historical references.
So Euroregions shouldn’t be considered ‘statelets in waiting’. They have no exclusive legislative, judicial or executive powers. At most, they share a permanent secretariat and a small staff, pooling the local and regional powers they were given in each constituent region’s national context for the common good.
Which could be something like cross-border police coordination and cooperation. Doubtlessly very useful, but also quite mundane – rendering Euroregions invisible to all but those directly involved in their workings. This is a nice map I found showing all the Euroregions Germany shares with its many neighbours… And at the same time demonstrating the peculiar EU penchant for naming stuff in a way reminiscent of maladroit Soviet acronyms. Anyone able to offer up some more information on the history or function of these specific Euroregions or able to provide a map of all the Euroregions in the EU, please do!
Clockwise, from the top (with abbreviations for the other than German participating countries between brackets):\n
Region Schleswig-Sonderjylland (DK)\n
\nFyns Amt-K.E.R.N. (DK)
\nStorstroms Amt-Ostholstein/Lübeckb (DK)
\nPomerania (SE, PL)
\nProeurop Aviadrina (PL)
\nSpree-Neisse Bober (PL)
\nNeisse (PL, CZ)
\nBayerischer Wald/Böhmischer Wald/Unterer Inn (CZ, A)
\nSalzburg- Berchtesgadener Land –Traunstein (A)
\nVia Salina (A)
\nBodensee (A, CH, LI)
\nTrirhena (CH, F)
\nSaar Lor Lux Rhein (F, L, B)
\nMaas-Rhein (B, NL)
Die Watteninseln (NL)
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