What are the spatial politics of the European Union ?

According to Wesley Scott, the “spatial politics are discussed here in terms of governance, regional policies and the production of geographical knowledge that reinforce the notion of a diverse but interdependent European space and, hence, political community”. He contends planning concepts have become a politicized concept around which regional development initiatives and socio-political qualities are contested in the common interest of forging an interdependent and economic prosperous European region. Thus, the EU integration project may be conceived as an exercise in multi-dimensional socio-spatial reordering from this theoretical perspective, i.e. a case of applied geostrategic theory to practice on european soil.

The European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) encompass several objectives, established early on as is to work towards a balanced and sustainable development of the territory of the European Union along the following parametres:

  • economic and social cohesion;
  • conservation and management of natural resources and the cultural heritage;
  •  more balanced competitiveness of the European territory

In a more narrow sense, there can be little doubt that the EU’s regional and cohesion policies are having an impact on the geographical and sectoral cleavages in the European Union. In many ways, the border regions of Europe recall the need for comparative studies into how they compare with each other and perhaps even apply them to the quality of the EU’s eastern and southern borders – foro interno, foro externo.

The Eu possesses a range of levers to shape the territorial dynamics of the European Union. This is having a clear economic impact in narrowing the gap between the regions of the Eu member states and between the East-West and North-South cleavage, although action is also informed by economic theory and the impact by the localized context. Cohesion policies are known to impact the level of pro-European attitudes. For instance, Wales and Scotland voted no to enter the EEC in 1972, but no to Brexit in 2017, following decades of EU support and investments in the areas. The level of economic activities throughout the European Union has evened out as a consequence of the stitching together of the European space through regional and cohesion policies. It is vital to engage citizens in dialogue in order to understand how to serve the citizenry best to ensure accountability and good govrenance a just distribution of benefits on the one hand, and on the other hand to bolster strong leadership and to prod a partnership in power between authorities and decision-making levels, so that interventions are followed up and accumulated on to ensure lasting impact – a positive multiplier loop creating a bond between the EU and the Member States. The public administrations of the Eu have been through a series of stress tests recently, which the EU , currently ad administrative state, have sought to recitify.

There are several maps available, that speaks volumes about how the Eu is making a difference in narrowing gaps on central parameters. The mandate is to lead the economic, social and territorial for an overall harmonious development of the European Union.

External aspects

Geography significantly influences political objectives by shaping the context within which nations and political entities operate. Let’s explore how geography impacts politics:

  1. Creation of Natural Boundaries:
  1. Mountains, rivers, oceans, and deserts often serve as dividers between countries and regions. These geographic features significantly influence political relationships and alliances.
  2. For instance, the Himalayas act as a natural boundary between India and China, impacting their strategic interactions.
  3. Resource Distribution:
  1. The availability and distribution of natural resources play a crucial role in shaping political objectives. Resource-rich regions hold global influence.
  2. Countries with abundant oil reserves, fertile land, or access to minerals often have specific political goals related to resource exploitation and trade.
  3. Economic Development:
  1. Coastal areas, due to their proximity to oceans and trade routes, become economic hubs. Ports, shipping lanes, and access to international markets drive economic development.
  2. Political decisions are influenced by the need to protect and enhance economic interests tied to specific geographic locations.
  3. Strategic Locations:
  1. Chokepoints, such as the Strait of Hormuz or the Suez Canal, significantly impact global trade and security. Control over these locations becomes a political objective.
  2. Geopolitically important regions, like the South China Sea, shape national security strategies and foreign policy.
  3. Climate and Environmental Challenges:
  1. Coastal vulnerability, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events influence political priorities. Climate change policies and adaptation strategies are geographically driven.
  2. Nations near the Arctic face new geopolitical dynamics due to melting ice and access to resources.

In summary, geography provides the canvas upon which political actors operate. It determines borders, access to resources, and strategic imperatives. Understanding these spatial dynamics is essential for effective governance and international relations.

Geography plays a pivotal role in international relations, influencing political power, foreign policy, and global interactions. Let’s explore how geography shapes international dynamics:

  1. Geopolitics and International Relations:
  2. Geopolitics is the study of how Earth’s geography impacts political power and international affairs. It focuses on the influence of geographic space, including:
    • Territorial waters: Maritime boundaries and access to oceans.
    • Land territory: Borders, natural features, and territorial claims.
    • Climate: Weather patterns affecting strategic planning.
    • Topography: Terrain, mountains, and valleys.
    • Demography: Population distribution and migration.
    • Natural resources: Access to minerals, energy, and agricultural land.
  3. Stability Amidst Complexity:
  1. International relations evolve amidst a complex interplay of various factors. However, the most stable element is the physical environment—fully described by geographers.
  2. Geographical conditions provide the permanent material foundation for both nationalism (linked to the territory a nation occupies) and power dynamics.
  3. Geopolitical stability arises from understanding the link between permanent geographical conditions and more stable aspects of international relations.
  4. Resource Distribution and Power:
  1. Geography shapes the distribution of natural resources (such as oil, minerals, and fertile land). Nations seek access to these resources for economic and strategic purposes.
  2. Control over key geographic locations (e.g., straits, ports, and energy transit routes) influences a country’s power and ability to project influence globally.
  3. Borders and Boundaries:
  1. Mountains, rivers, and coastlines define political boundaries. These natural features impact territorial claims, sovereignty, and conflict.
  2. Geographical proximity affects diplomatic relations and trade partnerships.
  3. Trade Routes and Connectivity:
  1. Trade routes, influenced by geography, connect nations economically. Ports, shipping lanes, and land corridors facilitate commerce.
  2. The Silk Road, for example, historically linked Europe and Asia, shaping cultural exchange and political alliances.
  3. Strategic Chokepoints:
  1. Geographical bottlenecks (e.g., the Strait of Hormuz, the Malacca Strait, or the Panama Canal, The Bosphorous, Øresund, Ginraltar Strait) impact global trade, energy security, and military movements.
  2. Nations vie for control over these critical passages.
  3. Climate Challenges and Adaptation:
  1. Coastal vulnerability, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events are geopolitical concerns.
  2. Climate change policies intersect with international relations, affecting cooperation, migration, and resource management.

In summary, geography provides the canvas upon which international relations unfold. Understanding spatial dynamics informs diplomacy, security, and cooperation.

Geography profoundly shapes diplomacy, influencing the conduct of international relations and the strategies employed by states and actors. Let’s explore its impact:

  1. Micro-Geographies of Diplomatic Sites:
  1. Diplomacy occurs in specific geographical locations—embassies, foreign ministries, and state dinners. These sites have unique spatial organization and emotional agency.
  2. The seating plan at a state dinner or the layout of diplomatic offices influences interactions. Decisions about where diplomacy takes place are as significant as the actions themselves.
  3. Spatialization of World Politics:
  1. Diplomacy is closely tied to the functionality of the state. Representing a polity externally builds legitimacy and is a key tool of statecraft.
  2. Diplomatic encounters mediate disputes, ignite arguments, and reshape how relations between actors are imagined.
  3. The spatial dynamics of diplomacy extend beyond specific sites to the broader context of world politics.
  4. Changing Terrain of Contemporary Diplomacy:
  1. Technological innovation and globalization have given rise to “new” diplomatic actors and practices.
  2. Scholars from various disciplines engage with the evolving spatial dimensions of diplomacy.
  3. Innovative approaches study alternative actors both “above” and “below” the state, challenging traditional notions of diplomacy.
  4. Geopolitical Awareness and Diplomacy:
  1. Knowing global geography enhances diplomatic decision-making. Understanding who lives where fosters empathy and informed choices.
  2. Geographical knowledge reduces advocacy for military intervention and promotes peaceful solutions.
  3. Economic Diplomacy and Trade Routes:
  1. Economic diplomacy influences the geography of international trade. Countries strategically position themselves to access markets and resources.
  2. Ports, shipping lanes, and land corridors play a crucial role in economic relations.
  3. Diplomacy as a Spatial Practice:
  1. A geographical lens diversifies conceptual framings of diplomacy. It widens the empirical view to include various practices, actors, and objects.
  2. By examining the spatial aspects, we gain insights into the complexities of diplomatic engagement.

In summary, geography shapes diplomatic practice, statecraft, and global interactions. Understanding spatial dynamics enriches our approach to international relations

In terms of the external spatial aspects of the EU integration project, I discern four geopolitical vectors weighing heavily on the security of the European Union,a composite state-like actor: (1) Where could an attack on Europe happen and where to defend Europe (2) The outfall from the war in Ukraine, including in the Black Sea  (3) Conflicts between the candidate countries (4) protection of  the lines of communication.

Similar to the internal aspects, the geopolitical aspects of the Eu integration is a contested area, since it involves notions of the EU’s claim to statehood, assessment of where political focus should be hence the use of funding and areas of effort and the growth areas and institutional interests of the European Union.

  1. Where to Expect Attack and Where to Defend the European Union:

Colin Gray and Geoffrey Sloan’s book, “Geopolitics, Geography, and Strategy”, provides valuable insights into this aspect. They emphasize that geopolitical conditions significantly influence strategic behavior. Even when cooperation among different military powers is expected, action must be planned and executed in specific physical environments.

Consider the geographical context of the EU’s borders, including potential flashpoints, critical chokepoints, and vulnerable areas. Analyze historical patterns of conflict and assess the strategic significance of different regions. For instance, the Baltic states and the Eastern Mediterranean are areas of heightened attention due to their proximity to potential threats.

Obviously, this is the most consequential of the geopolitical aspects of the European Union. I expect the EU and NATO to sort out and do more than merely comparing notes.

2.The Outfall from the Ukraine War, Including in the Black Sea:

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia

Ilie Bădescu’s encyclopedia on the Black Sea provides valuable information. The Black Sea is an inland sea between southeastern Europe and the Anatolian peninsula. It connects to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. The Bosporus and Dardanelles straits link it to other seas.

Analyze the geopolitical implications of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The Black Sea region has witnessed tensions, territorial disputes, and military maneuvers. Consider the role of Russia, NATO, and regional powers in shaping security dynamics. The Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia, remains a focal point.

3.Unresolved Conflicts Between Candidate Countries:

Geopolitical tensions persist in the Western Balkans, where several candidate countries aspire to EU membership. Colin Gray’s concept of “Inescapable Geography” is relevant here. Geography shapes political objectives and strategy.

Examine unresolved territorial disputes, historical grievances, and ethnic complexities. The EU’s enlargement process must navigate these challenges. The Western Balkans’ stability directly impacts European security. The six countries integration into the EU will tilt and strengthen the EU’s interests in Africa and the Middle East. If they are to be ready by 2030 all of them, an unlikely prospect, the geopolitical aspects of enlargement must be diffused. It follows, Macedonia and Montenegro must be part of the next enlargement round. The first to stabilise relations between Albania and Bulgaria and Greece, the second to box in the Serbians. Meanwhile, it is important to educate the politicians in the area, including Bosnia , to strengthen governance and the public administrations considerably in the WB6, and Romania and Bulgaria, and to integrate cultural diplomacy into mediation efforts in Kosovo. There are the missing persons. and all the other article six-themes which the EEAS in principle could make an inventory of project portfolio on as a mental exercise and in order to unblock and integrate with other dossiers to keep momentum towards comprehensive normalisation. What a great idea – fucking Stalin !

4.Protection of Lines of Communication:

The EU’s economic prosperity relies on secure maritime and land-based communication routes. Colin Gray’s work emphasizes the importance of geography in strategy.

Focus on critical sea lanes, such as the Mediterranean, the Baltic, and North Sea. Assess vulnerabilities, piracy threats, and energy transit routes. Consider the EU’s role in ensuring safe navigation and protecting vital infrastructure. This implies moving from coordinated maritime presence in areas of interest over a divsion of labor between EU and MS to a genuinely pugnacious expeditionary euromarfor.

5.Geopolitics and Its Meaning:

Geopolitics encompasses the study of how geography influences politics, strategy, and international relations. It considers spatial factors, resources, and power dynamics. However, the concept can be both informative and misused.

While geopolitics informs strategic decisions, it can also lead to power struggles, zero-sum thinking, and conflict. Responsible use of geopolitics involves balancing national interests with cooperation, diplomacy, and multilateralism.

Ultimately, the EU’s security lies in a nuanced approach that leverages geography while promoting stability, dialogue, and collective well-being.

Remember that geopolitical analysis evolves, and context matters. As you flesh out your argument, consider historical precedents, contemporary challenges, and the EU’s vision for a secure and integrated Europe.

Finally, the nature of contemporary strategy processes and the free float of information on the political market place constitute a challenge for idle bureaucrats. Digital diplomacy is a practice, a process and a disruption that tend to explode borders in a limitless and frontier-free environment contradicting notions of political order and the concepts employed by self-serving scoundrels to sustain themselves in office or to protect the polity’s genuinely common interests. And that is all, I have to say about the functioning of our institutions and why not all is about geopolitics.

Internal Spatial Aspects












External Aspects