by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

The people who put that map of Western Europe together are smoking something pretty good. They lump together real independence movements with some chance to success (Scotland, Catalonia, Basque Country) with "independence movements" so obscure I have never heard of them, and I have lived in Baden-Wurttemberg, speak German, have a master's degree in European politics and write regularly on the subject.

That's not to say they don't exist, only to say that they're as prominent as the Alaska Independence Party was before Todd Palin got famous.  "Padania" is silly - there is no chance of Italy's breakup.  Corsica's problem is not separatism but mobsterism.  Breton nationalism is dead as Dillinger, as I can attest from a recent reporting trip there for a book I'm writing, and Norman nationalism virtually non-existent.

As for those three possible secession movements, Robert Wright is quite right that their impact would be blunted to almost nothing by the EU. They are also made possible by the EU;  most of those countries would never think they could go it alone without the trade bloc that already treats autonomous regions as major players.

Anyway, there's no fire here, not even a little one.

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