President Sarkozy will not be the one to tell French schoolchildren that the borders of Europe extend to Syria and Iraq,1 should Turkish overtures to the EU be fully accepted. One must assume then, that he would have no problem explaining that the current borders of the EU extend to Morocco on mainland Africa, or that France itself shares borders with Brazil and Suriname. Or perhaps that under fifty years ago, its borders extended south to the Sahara Desert.
The question of Europe is a naturally contentious issue. Assuming one isn’t to treat it as a mere archipelagical extension of Asia, Europe has one of the most fluid and imprecise geographic borders of any of the continents. Claiming that Europe ends with the Atlantic Ocean, the Urals, the Volga or the Bosporus is perhaps all very appropriate, except that none of today’s borders actually conform to the logic. Whilst the EU might today stake the strongest claim to defining Europe, would Sarkozy’s schoolchildren really see it that way? Their idea of Europe is as likely to be influenced through football and music, as much as through other political and international bodies.