Europe: Is the nation-state a dying concept?

The peoples of the European continent are more regional than national in many instances.

The nation state, a "19th Century" creation, as Will Hutton puts it in The Guardian, will be left behind as "Europeans reshape their continent" from 2011. He might be on the right track, but I doubt he's entirely correct.

When doing business in Germany, I noticed how the Länder are pretty powerful there with local people devoted to and, in many instances, hidebound by their state. Teachers are trained by their Land's education system and find it almost impossible to relocate to another state: once in Munich, always in Bavaria. But that's understandable, I suppose, as Germany only unified in 1871.

European Union countries became single entities as nation-states at varying times:
  • Austria 1804
  • Belgium 1830 (recognised 1839)
  • Bulgaria 1878 (liberation from Ottoman Empire, independence declared 1908)
  • Cyprus (1960)
  • Czech Republic (1993)
  • Denmark (8th Century)
  • Estonia (1920)
  • Finland (1918)
  • France (843)
  • Germany (1871)
  • Greece (1830)
  • Hungary (895)
  • Ireland (1922)
  • Italy (1861)
  • Latvia (1921)
  • Lithuania (1918)
  • Luxembourg (1890)
  • Malta (1964)
  • Netherlands (1815)
  • Poland (1569)
  • Portugal (1139)
  • Romania (1878)
  • Slovakia (1993)
  • Slovenia (1991)
  • Spain (1812)
  • Sweden (probably 6th Century)
  • United Kingdom *
Dates relate to entities which fit roughly into modern boundaries. More ancient nations states are emboldened.

* The UK is complex as it consists of four countries, with England unifying by 953 and incorporating Wales in 1284. Scotland had unified by 843. The Act of Union between Scotland, England (and Wales) occurred in 1707. Northern Ireland is the remnant of the Kingdom of Ireland, established in1542, but when Ireland became a republic in 1920 the North of that island remained inside the UK.

Given the histories of these countries, it's not so surprising that some of the most Eurosceptic are ancient entities: the UK, Poland and Denmark, none of which joined the Euro. Nor did Sweden.

Attachment to a national identity is developed over many centuries (just ask a Scotsman how he feels about the English). Sicilians are bound to feel more attached to Sicily (now a region, yet from 1130 until 1816 an independent Kingdom in its own right) than they could ever be towards Italy. The same goes for many other peoples from the regions of Europe. Perhaps that's why the EU has been so adamant in pressing ahead with regional policy.

But for the constituent countries of the UK, a federation of the British makes more sense than would a federation of Europeans should that ever eventuate as a single national entity. The Danes and others might well feel the same.

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