Shifting Brexit date gives map-makers a headache

Lempdes (France), April 14

In or out? The repeated delays to Brexit are a nightmare for map makers and guidebook printers who have to decide how to depict Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

“We are completely lost,” said Henri Medori, manager of publisher AEDIS.

In a hangar that serves as his firm’s logistic hub in Lempdes, near Clermont-Ferrand in central France, dozens of copies of laminated leaflets on “Europe at 27” rest on boxes.

They reflect the number of countries that will be part of the EU once Britain finally leaves.

“We have at least ten books that have a map of Europe, of the European Union. So it’s a little complicated,” he told AFP.“We have frozen the print run—we will start it as soon as we have certainty about Brexit.” Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29, but this was delayed to April 12 and now to October 31 amid disagreement in Parliament over how to manage the split.

AEDIS, which has 12 members of staff, was quick to remove Britain from the EU in its publications following the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit.

Medori said there was “public pressure” to respond, explaining: “We were challenged by some readers who claimed our maps were wrong by including the UK.”

Then other clients complained, in emails that were “sometimes insulting”, saying that technically Britain remains a member of the bloc.

“So we added a box explaining Brexit,” he said.

But the firm has sold at most 6,000 documents showing Europe as a union of 27 countries, mostly in shops in motorway rest areas.

“For a year and a half, we have mostly given up on sales in this area,” Medori said, adding that he had received no guidance from EU institutions.

In Britain, the Oxford University Press (OUP) has avoided any radical changes to its maps but it also has to adapt.

“We’re monitoring the situation but not making major changes until we have greater clarity,” a spokeswoman told AFP.