Venn diagram illustrates all the different European unions, councils, zones and suchlike

This handy Venn diagram illustrates the relationship between the Council of Europe, the European Union, Shengen, the Eurozone, the European Economic Area, and the European Trade Association. I had to memorise all this stuff for my "Life in the UK" test when I got my permanent residency permit, and it was actually pretty interesting, especially as compared to some of the other material.
All will be aware of the 'Europe' that is a less than homogenous conglomerate of nation states, with an unwieldy Brussels bureaucracy at its centre. This European Union, which consists of 27 member states, is merely the most visible of several European unions, all committed to different versions of the same goal: European integration.

The EU is formally committed to strive for 'ever closer union' but its members still disagree on how much more than a free trade zone it wants to be. This continuing struggle for the soul of the EU (if that doesn't sound like too much of an oxymoron) is epitomised by the smaller, green circle contained within the blue EU one. These are the countries of the Eurozone, 17 at present, who've jumped in at the deep end of the sovereignty pool by discarding their own currencies in favour of a single one.

505 - United Diagrams of Europe


  1. The biggest and most frustrating lesson I’ve learned from this map is how unfamiliar with a lot of flags I am. For instance, where on earth is it that can mint Euros but is not in the EU?

    Oh, and Jersey and Guernsey, amongst other places, seem to be missing (I think they belong in the EEA and possibly the EFTA, but not in the EU…).

    1. This anachronistic statelet, the world’s smallest country and Europe’s only theocracy, has one tenuous link to Europe’s other institutions: it mints euros, albeit in relatively small amounts, making the coins imprinted with its head of state – the Pope – much sought-after collector’s items.

    1. It’s actually ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain’.

      Most of the confusion comes from shorthand.

  2. I know all these flags, but only because I was obsessed with vexillology when I was a kid ;D

    The Vatican City is the country that can mint Euros but isn’t a part of the EU. Technically the flag isn’t in the right proportions, its supposed to be square.

  3. This is the least informative and most useless “Venn Diagram” I’ve ever seen. (No offense, Cory).

    1. On the contrary, this is one of the most informative and useful Venn diagrams I’ve seen in quite a while.

  4. And yet people are surprised when they hear reports of Europe being a beaurocratic nightmare and (mostly) unelected gravy-train.

      1. Not really Ã…land is an autonomous area aswell…

        Well I for one welcome our monstrous beaurocratic overlords. Sure its an unstable, clumsy and beaurocratic union but it has one thing going for it – with the death of the nation state it is a part of that movement. One day these flags will be as relevant as the local heraldic symbols of various areas inside countries.

        Also there are other informal unions between other sets of nations. The northern nations (or scandinavian, even though finns and others don’t like that description) have a form of union, economic and passport wise. I know the Brits have something similare aswell as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

        1. It’s the Nordic Union, not an informal structure at all, but well funded and with strong integration. A sizeable organisation in its own right with hundreds of staff forming various councils, work groups etc.

          As for Ã…land, Guernsey and other smaller states, Europe is best explained as something of an infinite regression, below the international organisations are are nation states, below nation states are semi-autonomous regions, below these again are different areas often based on ethnisity with varying degrees of independence in local matters and so on.

  5. I would be astonished if any residents of the UK know all this, *except* for those who had to memorise it for a “Life in the UK” test.

  6. You had to memorise all this to get permanent residency? I bet 99.9% of native Brits would fail that test. I certainly would, and I’d say I’m something of a Europhile.

  7. Aha: Switzerland is now part of Schengen! That explains why I could just drive from Germany and France into Switzerland, without passport control.

  8. The Benelux is missing, the economic union between The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The first of the European Unions (after the war), it has recently been renewed with it’s major concern in modern days being intellectual propriety.

  9. Although officially European, Belarus and Kazakhstan are missing in the diagram because they are not (yet) part of any Eurocratic organisation.

  10. I think it should include the Eurovision set, if only to elicit the inevitable “What’s Israel doing in Europe” questions.

    Cory, I hope the “Life in the UK” test included an extensive Eurovision section.

    1. And for some strange reason it technicaly includes other “european” nations like Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, or Jordan.

      It´s some “European Broadcasting Union” thing, where the term “Europe” encompass almost half of the north emisphere.

      1. Well technicly cyprus is Asia too… Russia is a borderline thing. Basicly the whole idea of Europe is a bit slap dash there are no clear cut guidelines of where it really begins since most place in the egdes of it refers to europe as europe and other people from other places in Europe as European where as people from the same area as you are not… somehow.

        Personally I’m pro extending Europe and the EU as far as possible. Let Libya join (once Ghadaffis gone), Cyprus is in so why not Marocco? Israel is somehow in the eurovision song contest (why we compete in making crap music no one listens to anyway I’ll never know) and can sometimes be a part of the Euro thing so why not Lebanon?

        Theres room for everyone!

      2. The countries which border on the Mediterranean.

        Those countries were also for a long period, parts of the Roman Empire, more so than say Sweden, Denmark, and Finland – or even Germany beyond the Rhine.

        Would you feel differently about the countries of the Southern shore of the Mediterranean were they still Christian nations, as they were until the Muslim invasions of the eight and ninth centuries ?

        Is your ‘Europe’ used as a cultural, or a geographic, term?

        1. But the romans, even as part of their empire, did diference between Europe, Africa and Asia!

          The “European Broadcasting Area” is bounded on the west by the western boundary of Region 1, on the east by the meridian 40° East of Greenwich and on the south by the parallel 30° North so as to include the western part of the USSR, the northern part of Saudi Arabia and that part of those countries bordering the Mediterranean within these limits. In addition, Iraq, Jordan and that part of the territory of Turkey lying outside the above limits are included in the European Broadcasting Area.

          The problem is that both Eurovision and the European Broadcasting Area uses way too loosely the concepcion of Europe. It should be something like “Pancontinentalvision” and “Euro-African-Asiatic Broadcasting Area”.

          And, yes, Eurovision is cheesy and crappy.

  11. My feeling is that Europe encompasses all nations which border, or drain, into the Baltic, North, Mediterranean, Adriatic, Ionic, and Black Seas.

    But that’s only my feeling.

    1. Most of the continents are also tectonic plates, which is how I usually think of their borders.
      Europe is not, so I’d say it’s borders should be cultural, with geography as a secondary factor. Russia is far more European than it is Asian. Then again, in Roman times “Asia” meant the Turkey and parts of the middle east. The north African countries with strong historical ties to Europe are similarly borderline.
      That’s part of why the diagram is so complicated: countries can be European in one sense, but not in another.

      1. @AnthonyC “Most of the continents are also tectonic plates, which is how I usually think of their borders.”

        If you go by that logic, than half of Japan is in North America (since it sits on the North American plate.)

  12. Ok, so which insignificant European country’s archduke do I have to assassinate to make it all fall apart?

  13. Geographically speaking, Europe is the region of the Eurasian continent that lies west of the Ural Mountains. The majority of Russians live west of the Urals, which is why they consider themselves European.

    1. I have a friend who has recently needed to go on business to both Peking and Moscow, both for the first time.

      Her feeling was that Peking, with its English signs and helpful smiling people, was much more “Western” in feel than Moscow was, what with its lack of English signs, and its frowning unhelpful uni-lingual people and gray buildings! (OTOH, the Moscow subway both surprised and impressed her to no end.)

      I told her that if a she had told them that, the Russians would be sure to disagree (and be feel a little insulted and maybe angry, too), but that the Chinese would get a kick out of her opinions.

      I know that i did. Peking more Western than Moscow! Who would have thought?

  14. Liechtenstein is depicted as not part of the Schengen area, however it lets Switzerland take care of its borders and its foreign policy, so it is part of Schengen in everyday practice, because the Swiss are.

    Politically Europe is not defined. Any country that adopts the full package of current EU regulations could theoretically become an EU member if admitted by the others, as no EU treaty defines any geographic borders.

  15. This diagram is [almost] excellent. If only you could mouse over the flags to see what countries they represent.

    Seriously… who the hell outside of European governmental organizations can really identify every single one of those flags?

    The lack of mouse-over makes the whole thing pointless for me.

  16. Well, I was going to use “Beijing”, but then I remembered Americans using the name “Peiping” a lot, so I thought I’d split the difference, and just use “Peking”.

    1. I remembered Americans using the name “Peiping” a lot

      How far back are you remembering? As far as I can tell, it hasn’t been Peiping since 1949, when the communists moved the capital back there. I guess maybe a few people kept calling it that for a while, but any time I ever saw “Peiping” it was in a book that was really old and out of date.

      Americans have been calling it Beijing for decades. I’m not sure when the usage officially switched, but I seem to remember both Peking and Beijing being common in my childhood, and I was born in 1973. When the Olympics were held there in 2008, it was consistently called Beijing and nobody had any confusion over that (unlike the Winter Olympics in 2006, where NBC used “Torino” instead of the customary English “Turin.”)

      The dish Peking Duck still gets called that, even in Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley that cater to Chinese people, but that seems to be a special case. Other than that, I only hear “Peking” from confused people or out-of-date sources at least 20 or 30 years old.

      1. adam, FYI, the Ugly Canuck often acts confused. He’s trying to spin a clever explain of his ‘quaint’ choice of words that doesn’t point at his sense of exceptionalism (where he uses whatever words he likes and you just deal with it). Once you get past that habit, and accept that he means no harm through his dedication to obfuscation, he’s usually quite funny, for a Canadian.

      2. Actually i just used the wrong term: not really sure why i didn’t go with “Beijing” the first time around.

        Perhaps due to some momentary mental aberration.

  17. Not shown is the larger circle that these groups are contained in. It’s labeled ‘Who Cares?’

  18. That is not a Venn diagram:
    “The terms Euler diagram and Venn diagram are often confused. Venn diagrams can be seen as a special case of Euler diagrams, as Venn diagrams must contain all possible zones, whereas Euler diagrams can contain a subset of all possible zones. In Venn diagrams a shaded zone represents an empty set, whereas in an Euler diagram the corresponding zone could be missing from the diagram. This means that as the number of contours increase, Euler diagrams are typically less visually complex than the equivalent Venn diagram, particularly if the number of non-empty intersections is small.”


  19. The Council of Europe is not synonymous with the European Council. The latter is not shown in your diagram, but the potential confusion should nonetheless be anticipated.

  20. Ah yes the “Life in the UK” test. As surmised by Anon, most britons would never pass it, and I’d include my self in that after seeing the amount that my sister in law had to memorise to get her passport.
    Nuggets of information like the population of Cardiff (to the nearest thousand) is not something taught in schools here (or wasn’t 20 years ago at least).

    I’m hoping that if I can sit and fail it I’ll get deported somewhere nice and sunny like Australia :)

  21. It’s cool. I’m in my mid-40s, and even though I grew up in Germany, live in the Netherlands and am fairly well-educated in European politics and history, I must say that I don’t know half of the flags displayed here. Since the EU east enlargement and since Yugoslavia split up, there have been so many new little nation states that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. I will definitely brush up on this.

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