A. The breakdown of the Soviet Union (USSR) was one major geopolitical event initiating change in the number of international boundaries in Europe between 1980 and 2013.
B. Nationalism can act as a centripetal force and eliminate an international boundary when members of the same nationality are present on both sides of that boundary. Nationalists are people who are highly loyal and patriotically tied to their countries. When an international boundary (particularly a superimposed one) divides such people with a shared history, cultural heritage, language, and nationality, the sense of nationalism and pride in national identity that binds a nation together pulls that divided nation together across the political boundary. An example of this would be the reunification of East and West Germany. Following World War 2, Germany was divided into a Soviet-backed East Germany and an American-backed West Germany. Despite the disparate political and social systems enforced by these outside countries, Germans on both sides of the border still identified as German. German nationalism was a driving force behind the abolishment of East-West Germany boundaries, because East and West Germans held the perception that their existing national identity of German deserved to be internationally recognized as one rather than divided in two. Furthermore, a nationalistic desire among the common Germans to rebuild Germany’s presence in the world following the shame of their role in WW2 was a centripetal force. To firmly establish an economic and political foothold in the global order again, Germans were determined to reunite with their fellow Germans, regardless of where they were situated in regards ti a superimposed border. Overall, the centripetal force of East and West Germans sharing a common self-determination and pride on their German identity helped eliminate the international boundary previously dividing Germany.
C. Nationalism can help create international boundaries by corroborating individual national identities existing within a larger state. When people are nationalistic, they believe in not just the validity of their state, but often even the superiority of their state, especially over other suprantational or political entities. Thus, nationalism can propel an ethnic minority from being an ethnic minority member of an existing state into being an individual national entity with a belief in self-determination. The breakdown of the Soviet Union into several smaller states is one example of this. The USSR was an enormous country covering a highly diverse, regionalized set of ethnic, linguistic, and cultural groups. These groups were often separated by physical barriers and thus developed independent national identities; the USSR felt like an empty political identity draped over these distinct cultural groups. As dissatisfaction grew among these cultural groups (which included everyone from the Kazakhs in Central Asia to Ukrainians in Eastern Europe) in regards to not being able to control their own political and social affairs, so too did their sense of nationalism. Ultimately, this led to great political and regionalist unrest in the Soviet Union that contributed to the Soviet Union’s formal dissolution into many states along cultural and ethnic boundaries in 1991.
D. Supranationalism has greatly affected the function of international boundaries in Europe, and one of the most influential supranational organizations for Europe was the European Union. The EU influenced Europe’s international borders economically by introducing the Euro, a common currency adopted by several European member states. This common European currency increased economic mobility across boundaries for individual Europeans – wages earned on the job in France could be spent in Germany without any conversion, for example – and also simplified international trade across Europe. The EU also affected international European borders by easing travel between member states. Becasue many EU states didn’t require lengthy passport checks and border crossing processes for fellow EU state members, the symbolism of the international border as a sharp dividing line was strongly reduced.