Of course, it's all about where you move. The authors argue that it needs to be less populous regions.
- Moving from densely-populated urban regions is more effective in stopping the spreading of disease than closing borders.
- Two researchers from Spain and Italy ran 10,000 simulations to discover that travel bans are ultimately ineffective.
- Smaller cities might suffer high rates of infection, but the nation overall could benefit from this model.
Credit: Alexander Ozerov / Adobe Stock<p>The author realizes this model has limitations. Their focus was purely on population densities. Ideally, mobility during a pandemic coincides with public health measures, such as wearing a mask, washing your hands, and self-quaranting—factors that differ radically depending on what region you happen to be in. </p><p>While their modeling is hypothetical, it does track with real-world migration patterns. A mass exodus has been <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/30/nyregion/nyc-suburbs-housing-demand.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><u>occurring from New York City</u></a>, for example. The reasons for so many people fleeing are manifold, but the pandemic certainly catalyzed the migration. Similar trends are occurring in <a href="https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/09/23/residents-moving-out-of-california-on-the-rise/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><u>Los Angeles</u></a> and <a href="https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Yes-people-are-leaving-San-Francisco-After-15635160.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><u>San Francisco</u></a>.</p><p>In their paper, Zanin and Papo wonder if forced relocation, from high-density to low-density regions, could be proactively enforced. Of course, there would be political pushback for initiating such measures, though it appears it could impact the spread of disease as well. </p><p>The authors also note that their model does not take into account the impact on regional health care systems, which, at least in America, are often not equipped to handle population increases. And they recognize the political concern—hypothetical modeling does not necessarily take ethical considerations into question. </p><p>That said, this is and will remain a political issue. As Zanin <a href="https://publishing.aip.org/publications/latest-content/in-a-pandemic-migration-away-from-dense-cities-more-effective-than-closing-borders/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><u>says</u></a>, the success of any pandemic response lies in the cooperation between national and regional governments looking at their country as a whole, as well as considering the impact of their actions on the rest of the planet. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Collaboration between different governments and administrations is an essential ingredient towards controlling a pandemic, and one should consider the possibility of small-scale sacrifices to reach a global benefit."</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
'Critical Tourist Map of Oslo' offers uniquely dark perspective on Norway's capital.
- Your standard tourist map is irrepressibly positive about its location—but not this one.
- Norwegian activist/artist Markus Moestue reveals the dark and shameful sides of Oslo.
- He hopes his 'Critical Tourist Map' will inspire others to reveal the dark side of their cities.
"Only negative stuff about Oslo"<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="afa824839d1b396332eec13dde629cf1"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HI1paJLc9Bo?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Tourism is a conspiracy of euphemisms. Visitors only want to see the best parts of the places they visit. And the places they visit only want to show them their nicest bits. But now, Norwegian activist/artist Markus Moestue is completely reversing that premise. His 'Critical Tourist Map' of Oslo shows the worst, most shameful parts of the Norwegian capital. "It's just like a normal tourist map," he says, "but everything is negative."</p><p><span></span>In a clip on his website, he's seen wheeling a self-made kiosk across Oslo to distribute his work to passersby: "You guys want a free tourist map? It's a critical one: only negative things. So, nothing about sweaters or lasagna, only negative stuff about Oslo and Norway." Some hesitantly accept the map. Most walk by, nonplussed.</p><p><span></span>In the same clip, Moestue muses: "If you feel like you live in the best country in the world, take a moment to consider: Is that really a fact? Or is that just the result of a very successful national propaganda?"</p><p><span></span>One thing is for sure: Norway does have a very positive opinion of itself, and successfully projects that image to the rest of the world. Like its neighboring countries in Scandinavia, it regularly tops global rankings of happiness, equality, eco-awareness and other positive social indicators. </p><p><span></span>But Moestue argues that there <em>is</em> something rotten in the state of Norway, and he uses the otherwise irrepressibly positive medium of the tourist map to make his point. </p><p><span></span>"The Critical Tourist Map of Oslo might help you shatter a few myths about the greatness of Norway. Among the topics you'll learn about is Norway's aggressive foreign policy, our involvement in colonial slavery, the unfair asylum system and why Amnesty International has their eyes on our prisons."</p><p>A short overview of the places and issues he singles out (see map for full text) follows.<br></p>
"Cleverly constructed doublethink"<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc2NDA0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzE2Njg2OH0.f-P7CZ6HWXngFmGcYH9GCgTkD9zSIk8XdG3u6wUu8W4/img.jpg?width=980" id="a836f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d0fb7e033d4121b4400670417eefcf61" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The Royal Palace in Oslo was built in the first half of the 19th century as the Norwegian residence of Norwegian and Swedish king Charles III (Carl Johan, Charles XIV of Sweden) and is used as the official residence of the present Norwegian Monarch. The crown-prince couple resides at Skaugum in Asker Municipality outside Oslo." data-width="3706" data-height="2720" />
The Royal Palace in Oslo. "The Royal Myth was created by King Olav in 1973, when he arranged a photo of himself pretending to pay for a tram ticket," says Moestue.
Credit: Palickap, CC BY-SA 4.0<p><strong></strong><strong>1. Monarchy</strong></p><p><em>Det Kongelige Slott (the Royal Palace) – Slottsplassen 1</em></p><p>"The Royal Myth was created by King Olav in 1973, when he arranged a photo of himself pretending to pay for a tram ticket. That iconic image showed the king being just like us. But of course, it was such a big deal because he's not one of us. This is very cleverly constructed doublethink."<br></p><p><strong>2. Parliament</strong></p><p><em>Stortinget (Parliament) – Karl Johanns gate 22</em></p><p><em></em>"In 2011, these people voted to bomb Libya. 588 Norwegian bombs helped reduce that country from one of the most stable states in Africa into one of civil war with extreme suffering for its people." </p><p><strong>3. Slavery</strong></p><p><em>Tordenskioldstatuen (statue of Tordenskiold) – Rådhusplassen (east side)</em></p><p>"Our national hero Tordenskiold operated as a slave-trader during the colonial era. Norway actively downplays this part of our history and has not provided any apologies or paid any reparations."</p><p><strong>4. Oslo Prison</strong></p><p><em>Oslo fengsel (Oslo Prison) - Åkebergveien 11</em></p><p><em></em>"Amnesty International has complained that this prison in Oslo keeps prisoners in isolation for up to 23 hours a day. This equals torture and may have long-term implications for the prisoners' mental health." </p><p><strong>5. Lesbian bench</strong></p><p><em>Karl Johanns gate (?)</em></p><p><em></em>"This bench is a memorial for all in Norway who have been discriminated against—and still are—because of their sexual orientation. Still today you can find discrimination, and some religious sects are still trying to 'heal' young people from homosexuality." </p><p><strong>6. Indigenous peoples</strong></p><p><em>Samisk Hus (Sami House) - Dronningens gate 8B</em></p><p><em></em>"Many efforts have been made to assimilate the indigenous people of Norway. Sami and Kven have had their cultures diminished. Use of their languages and symbols was discouraged, sometimes outlawed. Today, these languages are under threat of extinction."<br></p>
The gap between history and reality<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc2NDA1Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTg5NTQ1NH0.BINAtAOzGyUMfBdjCUuBI4jcE-JGF5NJMM4cL4SeMe4/img.jpg?width=980" id="0bad8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d468a23fd5d94b61348f94c4779ff48f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200b"In most countries, what we are taught about our own nation in school does not correspond much to reality," says Mr Moestue. This map sets about correcting that shortcoming, at least for his own country: "Is Norway the most happy place, the most environmentally conscious, the most peace-loving or the most ethical (country on earth)? Hardly!"" data-width="3508" data-height="4961" />
"In most countries, what we are taught about our own nation in school does not correspond much to reality," says Moestue. This map sets about correcting that shortcoming, at least for Oslo and Norway.
17th-century sugar<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc2NDA2Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTAxMjkxMX0.gznqzdg6ts4Ao3tZnJSpg93nCj0YUBi8ycrYKcBg1bU/img.jpg?width=980" id="a18ce" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="51d624d1e603cdae225ef8fca66a9764" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Seagull resting in Tordenskiold's hat. "We had fortresses in Africa and colonies in the Caribbean. Norway actively downplays this part of our history and has not provided any apologies or paid any reparations," says Mr Moestue. "It sometimes feels like Norway has no colonial history and nobody ate any sugar in the 17th century."" data-width="2486" data-height="2109" />
Seagull resting in Tordenskiold's hat. "It sometimes feels like Norway has no colonial history and nobody ate any sugar in the 17th century."
Credit: Michal Klajban, CC BY-SA 3.0<p>Perhaps somewhat too convinced of the malleability of public opinion, Mr Moestue muses: "People don't want to just come to Oslo, look around, go back home and say: <em>Hey, I've been to Oslo, to have the best kebab or to have some mediocre Chinese food there</em>. No. People want to go to Oslo and then they want to go back home, and they want to say: <em>I've been to Oslo. I've seen Oslo. And it's really, really bad</em>."</p><p>Most foreigners - and a good deal of Norwegians - will probably not know that the country has a colonial past, for example. "We had fortresses in Africa and colonies in the Caribbean. Norway actively downplays this part of our history and has not provided any apologies or paid any reparations," says Moestue. But "it sometimes feels like Norway has no colonial history and nobody ate any sugar in the 17th century."</p><p><span></span>However, don't mistake Mr Moestue's negativism for nihilism. Ultimately, his map has a positive point to make: "I feel that Norway is using too much resources <em>appearing</em> to be good, and too little effort actually <em>doing</em> good!"</p><p>And there's another thing the artist hopes is map will achieve: "I'm hoping others will make their own tourist maps about their own cities. If they look hard enough I'm sure it's also pretty bad!" </p><p><br><br><em>Learn more about Mr Moestue's map on his <a href="https://markusmoestue.no/" target="_blank">website</a>.</em></p><p><em></em><strong>Strange Maps #1056</strong></p><p><strong></strong><em>Got a strange map? Let me know via </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em><br></p>
'Battlefield maps' show continent under attack from hostile invaders.
- Maps aren't objective. And migration maps aren't innocent.
- Consciously or not, their content and form can confirm anti-migrant prejudices.
- Alternative mapping options are available – but perhaps the answer isn't a map at all.
Don't believe the map<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzYwMzU2MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxODYxMjk5Nn0.cA3hzZU2bj7_dZ09ykYWd1tI89WF8VVcLtQ3JKfbv5k/img.jpg?width=980" id="1d000" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5303fbd488fa49266c24b2328ae5cabe" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bSatellite picture showing a scirocco blowing desert dust across the sea from Libya to southern Europe." data-width="996" data-height="796" />
Satellite picture showing a scirocco blowing desert dust across the sea from Libya to southern Europe. Most of the irregular migration into Europe takes place across this part of the Mediterranean, either from North Africa to Italy or from Turkey to Greece.
Image: NASA, public domain<p>One map can say more than a thousand words. That's why we shouldn't believe all they're telling us. See, maps have a problem. They appear neutral, objective, authoritative. But that's exactly all that they're not. Each map reflects the many choices the cartographer has made, consciously or not, both in terms of content and form. </p><p>And so, without us even noticing it, maps can confirm bias, entrench prejudice and perpetuate injustice. Take for instance the topic of migration, guaranteed to raise the volume of the after-dinner conversation at any party. In a recent article, Dutch news website <a href="https://decorrespondent.nl/" target="_blank" style="">De Correspondent</a> argues that the cartographic depiction of migrant flows into Europe reinforces the negative attitudes many Europeans have towards migrants.<br></p>
The Frontex map<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzYwMzU2Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjAzNzQ3NH0.OUmSYwK8haPrHwfB1TmXW8_NLy5iTfpXbzxkLKFjios/img.png?width=980" id="7dfb8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fe20fbe6f39b4b1da0a859a15e119cfd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Frontex: Risk Analysis for 2020" data-width="1351" data-height="846" />
Illegal border crossings at the EU's external borders in 2019: just under 142,000 (down from around 150,000 in 2018 and almost 205,000 in 2017). Most came in via the Eastern Mediterranean route (83K, up from 57K in 2019), followed by the Western Mediterranean route (24K, down from 56K), the Western Balkan route (15K, up from 6K) and the Central Mediterranean route (14K, down from 23K). Relatively minor routes: the Western African route (3K, up from 1K), the Circular Route from Albania to Greece (2K, down from 5K), the Eastern Borders route (700, down from 1K) and the Black Sea route (2, up from zero).
Image: Frontex - Risk Analysis for 2020<p>Here's a map taken from the 2020 annual report by <a href="https://frontex.europa.eu/" target="_blank">Frontex</a>, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, showing the illegal border crossings into the EU for 2019. As part of the official report on illegal immigration, this map is the source of many others in the European media. </p>While it may seem nothing more or less than a factually correct cartographic representation of objective data contained in the report, De Correspondent argues that there are several things wrong with this image. <br><ul><li>The arrows are reminiscent of battlefield maps, suggesting that Europe is under attack. This is aggravated by the use of the color red, which signals danger.</li><li>The arrows are huge – larger than some countries. This homogenises a diverse group of people, and inflates the perceived size of the issue.</li><li>The 'straightness' of the arrows indicates a clear purpose; but most migrants experience a much more circuitous and dangerous path, not always concluded successfully (or alive). </li><li>The title refers to 'illegal border crossings', not mentioning that migrants hardly have legal means of entering the EU. </li></ul><p>This all serves to affirm certain preconceptions about migration into Europe: the continent is being flooded by a huge influx of hostile aliens. "It's no coincidence that political parties opposed to migration use maps like these in their communication," the article states.</p>
Red map vs. blue map<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzYwMzU2My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1ODMwNDc1Nn0.eUSqFNbDPLQdfPfFmTn0I03c2DmiMHF5CtDaQT5RyQ8/img.jpg?width=980" id="98561" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="63f37508c44e036b0127b98436a96e1d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Maps of migration into Europe." data-width="2800" data-height="1300" />
The blue map tries to confer the same information as the red one, without confirming the underlying biases.
Image: De Correspondent, reproduced with kind permission.<p>Can maps confer the same information without confirming those biases? De Correspondent took the Frontex map and translated it into its own house style; and then produced a kinder, gentler alternative:</p><ul><li>The colour is a more soothing blue rather than the aggressive red.</li><li>The map's new title ("These are the routes via which irregular migrants reach the EU") no longer focuses on the illegal aspect of the entries.</li><li>The military-style arrows are replaced by circles. </li></ul>While the 'blue' map at least makes an active effort not to walk into the same bias-confirming trap that the 'red' one does, it still tells only part of the story. No mention is made of the conflicts that motivate migrants to risk their lives in journeying to Europe – nor indeed of the many lives lost along those routes.
Thinking beyond the map<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzYwMzYxNC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjM4ODczN30.0BGBJgwWXUi0fDh-OQ4u6otM5a7hyoJx6fOCEpLnsIM/img.png?width=980" id="a6c11" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8b82a2659765b4eb68e0bc37e1e851f9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Number of migrants reaching Europe via the Mediterranean. The numbers have been declining since 2015." data-width="1477" data-height="1251" />
Number of migrants reaching Europe via the Mediterranean. The numbers have been declining since 2015.
Image: De Correspondent, reproduced with kind permission.<p>Perhaps a map is not the right way at all to present information on migration, De Correspondent argues. Here's another illustration: a simple bar chart, showing the number of irregular border crossings for each of the preceding six years. Following the dramatic refugee influx of 2015, that number has gone down significantly and consistently for each of the following years. </p><p><span></span>This offers a radically different perspective on the same reality – and one less likely to be reproduced by anti-immigration parties. </p><p><em><br></em></p><p><em><span></span>For more background (and more maps), see the <a href="https://decorrespondent.nl/11351/zo-maken-kaarten-in-de-media-ons-onbewust-negatiever-over-migranten/494574421-f2a0eea7" target="_blank">original article</a> at <a href="https://decorrespondent.nl/" target="_blank">De Correspondent</a> (in Dutch), which was based on an article in the journal <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rmob20/current" target="_blank">Mobilities</a>: <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17450101.2019.1676031?src=recsys&" target="_blank">The migration map trap. On the invasion arrows in the cartography of migration</a> (in English).</em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1045</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em></p>
According to Harvard economists, Democrats and Republicans both perceive reality very wrong.
Different views, equally wrong<p>The paper is being written by Stefanie Stantcheva, a professor of economics at Harvard University, and Armando Miano, a doctoral candidate. Famed economist <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Alesina" target="_blank">Albert Alesina</a> also worked on the paper until his tragic death earlier this year.</p><p>According to Stantcheva, the impetus for the research was to get into people's heads to see what really drives their policy views. As she told <a href="https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/06/study-finds-political-bias-skews-perceptions-of-verifiable-fact/" target="_blank">the Harvard Gazette</a>: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"One thing that we've been doing a lot is to study what we can observe...like what people actually do, what people learn, and what people decide. What we really have not known until now so much is: What's going on in the background? How do people think about their decisions? How do they decide which policies to support or not? How do they reason about these?"</p><p>To answer those questions, the researchers sent detailed surveys to thousands of respondents. The surveys covered topics such as social mobility, tax policy, social inequality, and immigration. </p><p>To the surprise of no one, Republicans and Democrats sported different views. The difference proved even wider when comparing respondents who did or did not vote for President Donald Trump. But which group had a more distorted view of reality?</p><p>As Stantcheva summed it up, "One group is not necessarily more wrong than the other. Everybody's quite wrong."</p>
Signals lost in political white noise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM5NjA1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NTQ4MjM1MH0.yxFBRn1ngP9fla908jW_Pr3GlspBXa1QoeOr2G3xMMk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C46&height=700" id="77cda" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3f694896ae3f8937ad34ac3e4725716a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
A graph showing Democrat and Republican perceptions of politically-charged facts against the reality of those facts.
The persistence of misperception<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8be3c16e88bab308b601df69402188cb"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kyioZODhKbE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>How do misperceptions persist despite verifiable facts being a mere Google search away? </p><p>One reason, the researchers note, is that such issues are permeated by political narratives. Even if a signal cuts through that noise, we're operating on different frequencies. As shown in the social mobility survey, our perceptions will lead us to weigh its value based on its narrative use, not its empirical merit. </p><p>They also note that <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/media-bias-chart" target="_self">the demand for accurate information is politically charged</a>, too. In one experiment, respondents were allowed to pay a randomized amount to receive accurate information about immigration in the United States. Care to guess who was least likely to pony up?</p><p>"The people who most need the information are going to be the least likely to seek out that information. It seems that either they don't realize that they're wrong, or they're just very entrenched in their beliefs, and do not want their beliefs to be changed," Stantcheva told the Gazette.</p><p>But Stantcheva and her fellow researchers aren't entirely pessimistic about the future. By understanding the political thought process and how we create our own reality barriers, we may be able to intervene in that process and let a more accurate picture of reality seep through.</p>
Europe's border closures due to coronavirus go against a fundamental freedom enshrined in the Schengen Agreement.
- Most EU members have shut their borders to limit coronavirus infection.
- While understandable, it also goes against one of Europe's most fundamental freedoms.
- In the longer run, these border closures could threaten the very existence of the EU itself.
The Schengen Area is supposed to be solid blue, but the current crisis has criss-crossed it with old obstacles.
Image: Political Geography Now - base map by Ssolberj (CC BY-SA 3.0)<p>This map, <a href="https://www.polgeonow.com/2020/03/coronavirus-reintroduction-schengen-border-control-map.html" target="_blank">published earlier this month</a> by <a href="https://www.polgeonow.com/" target="_blank">Political Geography Now</a>, shows the current state of affairs within Europe.</p><p>The area in blue is the Schengen Area. It is named after the Luxembourg town, symbolically located at the border tri-point with France and Germany where the Schengen Agreement was signed. It <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/26/world/europe/coronavirus-european-union.html" target="_blank">has been called the 'crown jewel'</a> of the European project, as it ensures free movement of people and goods within the Area.</p><p>However, the Schengen Area (usually referred to as just 'Schengen') does not entirely overlap with the 27-member European Union.</p><ul><li>It includes only 22 of the EU's 27 member states (in dark blue).</li><li>Ireland (in yellow) prefers to maintain its passport-less Common Travel Area with the UK (including Northern Ireland).</li><li>Four of the EU's newest member states - Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia (in green) - are not yet part of Schengen, but are obliged to join when they've implemented the required rules to the EU's satisfaction.</li></ul>'Schengen' also includes some non-EU countries:<ul><li>Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland (in greyish blue) are official participants in the Agreement.</li><li><span></span>Monaco, the Vatican, San Marino (in light blue) participate unofficially; despite not having signed the Agreement, they do not normally put up any barriers at their external borders.</li></ul><p>Free movement is a core feature of the European project. It has helped foster European cooperation, grow the European economy and – certainly not least – strengthen the ties that bind the peoples of Europe.</p><p>For 'Schengen' has given rise to the so-called '<a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/in-europe-at-war-with-coronavirus-borders-are-back/" target="_blank">EasyJet Generation</a>': young Europeans for whom freedom of movement is all they've ever known, who have friends and family all across the continent, and who are just as likely to go to university and find jobs outside as inside their native country. For them, closed borders are an entirely new phenomenon.</p><p>As the map shows, almost all Schengen Area countries have put up controls at their national borders. Most (in red) have been declared to the EU. In the case of Spain, Poland and Slovakia (in yellow) they are of some other nature. Only the Dutch-German border seems exempt from additional controls.</p><p>On the one hand, closing national borders is an understandable reaction to COVID-19. Limiting travel limits social interaction, which limits the spread of the virus. National borders are 'natural' locations for these limits, both in an operational sense – the dormant border infrastructure is easily reactivated – and on a more symbolic level: it allows national governments to underscore the extent of their particular measures.</p><p>Thus, national borders, which since 1995 had slid into irrelevance, again re-emerge as markers of substantial differences between European states. And of more trivial ones, as was the case in Baarle, where a shop built across the Belgian-Dutch border was <a href="https://www.facebook.com/VeryStrangeMaps/posts/1791120547690343" target="_blank">literally half open and half closed</a>. </p><p>It's not the first stress test of the Schengen model. In September 2015, Germany re-established checks at its land border with Austria – a response to the large wave of asylum seekers entering the EU from Greece. That measure led to a domino effect, with other countries not wanting to become the last place where the migrants would get stranded. Austria introduced checks on its southern border, with fellow Schengen countries Slovenia and Hungary. Those two, at Schengen's outer limits, soon started turning away migrants at their southern borders. Other countries re-introducing 'internal' border checks within Schengen at that time were France, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. </p><p>The Schengen Agreement actually allows for the reinstatement of border controls, but under special circumstances and for a temporary period. Six Schengen countries – Germany, France, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Norway – have maintained border checks since the 2015 migration wave, although the rationale for the measures may have changed. France, for instance, has used the threat of terrorism to justify the extension of its border controls. The European Parliament has called out this behaviour as unlawful under the Schengen Agreement. </p><p>So in fact, Schengen hasn't been truly without border checks since 2015. When the corona restrictions wind down, will some border controls similarly linger on, or will the Schengen countries take the opportunity to hit the reset button and go entirely borderless again? Two good arguments for the latter:</p><ul><li>In December 2018, a Eurobarometer survey found that 70 percent of respondents consider free movement one of Europe's major achievements. Losing that asset would reduce the European project's legitimacy.</li><li>Sustained border controls create friction between member states. For example, in 2017, the targeting of Greek airlines at German airports led to a substantial row between the two countries.</li></ul><p>The European Commission has plans to shore up the EU's external borders – making it harder to get in, a condition for some stakeholders to accept open internal borders. That plan also calls for a proportional distribution of asylum seekers across member states, which some are likely to veto. </p><p>So, with no decisive action on the horizon, the cracks in Schengen could grow wider – confirming in the eyes of many what the corona crisis has demonstrated: that nation states <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/opinion/how-coronavirus-brought-realism-back/" target="_blank">are the most effective level</a> for the exertion of political power, and that supranational institutions like Schengen and the EU are an irrelevance at best.<br></p><p><em><br></em></p><p><em>Map found </em><a href="https://www.polgeonow.com/2020/03/coronavirus-reintroduction-schengen-border-control-map.html" target="_blank">here</a><em> at </em><a href="https://www.polgeonow.com/" target="_blank">Political Geography Now</a><em>, reproduced with kind permission. Follow their twitter feed <a href="https://twitter.com/PolGeoNow" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1023</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.</p>