At the 2018 conferences of CIST (Collège international des sciences territoriale) mine was one of only two in English.  (Faludi 2018) Not to worry: I met exciting people and my extended paper (in French: Faludi 2019) went into the Dossier des Annales de Droit.  Like me, Kahn and Richard (2020) underscore the EU‘s being – my term – a ‘neomedieval’ construct without a supreme, sovereign authority. So, its territory is no identifier but, sharing their sovereignty and territoriality as they do, the same goes for its members. After all, as an empire, the EU distinguishes itself by the mutualisation of policies. Besides, many of those apply, not to the whole, but only to some of its parts. Also, ‘…some policies, standards and regulations are exported and applied in third countries, which implies the integration of those territories…’ (p 129). Which comes down to ‘… a form of statehood … not covered by the classical idea of the territorial state’ (p 130). Think of monetary policy. It gives the EU statehood, but one that extends ‘…into states that use the euro but are not in the eurozone or even in the EU…’ (p 131).

This imperial construct is neither fixed not monoscalar, but an ‘auto-empire’ where ‘…each nation runs its territory jointly with the other nations, while also participating in the production of the territories of the other nation states … through the implementation of regulations that have been co-produced … This … means that any immediate all-encompassing perception … of a clear link between sovereignty and territory at EU level is unpredictable’ (ibid). So conceived, European territorial sovereignty is not superimposed. It rather merges national jurisdictions. But, this ‘…makes it all the harder to encompass it in a simple representation’ making for ‘…the elusiveness of a common territorial referent’ (132).

In fact, the authors identify , not one but four forms of territoriality: stato-nationhood; imperiality; local statehood (which they do not discuss) and ’reticularity’ standing for ‘…the process by which networks produce territory’ (p 134). The latter alludes to the involvement of civil society. After all, historically speaking, ’…the production of Europeanness had little to do with political society and statehood … Europeanness only became a matter of political society, statehood and ultimately of politics with the advent of what became the European Union‘ (ibid).

The downside is that, the EU being moulded by reticularity makes it difficult ‘… to construct a territorial culture that can serve as a shared referent … and which could be linked to a simple spatial representation’ (p 135). But, although neither sovereign nor a state, the EU can still have coherence and territoriality through its being governed by means of ‘…flexible, fluid and negotiable relations…’ (ibid). The outcome is an unintended, collectively constructed quasi-territory linked to European sovereignty. Which is why it is difficult for people to develop a sense of ownership and to treat the EU as a reference point. ’Delimitation is also problematic, because it is very hard to say where the boundaries of the EU lie. These things together represent a major issue for supporters of the EU, if they want to relaunch the European project’ (ibid). It is after all a ‘…fuzzy, complex and not always hierarchical territorial post-modernity [which is – AF] problematic for the establishment of a political community‘ (p 137).

Which can only mean that much debate about the EU – including the one about to break loose at the Conference on the Future of Europe ( – in terms of ‘them’ at Brussels and ‘us’ in the member states is bound to be sterile. Look first at the tangle we are already in, I would say!



Faludi, A. (2018) ‘Beyond territorialism: Europe as an archipelago’, CIST2018 proceedings Représenter les territoires // Representing territories,

Faludi, A. (2019) ‘Au-delá du territorialism: la métaphore de l’archipel’, in: S. Brunet, L. Levon, Yann, R. (eds.) Les dossiers des Annales de Droit, Prolifération des territoires et représentations territoriales de l’Union européenne, Presses Universitaires de Rouen et du Havre, Mont-Saint-Aignan,161-174

Kahn, S., Richard, Y. (2020) ‘Unthought and unrepresentable? The European territorial paradox’, European Journal of Geography, 11(1), 124 – 139. Available at:

Please follow and like us: