The European Union has no plans to abolish England, officials in Brussels insisted after two British newspapers accused the EU of wanting to "wipe England off the map", reported the dpa.
"There are no secret plans to carve up the continent in a way that makes England disappear. There is no goal of creating a United States of Europe," a European Commission spokeswoman said.
The comments came after two popular British tabloids, the Sun and the Daily Mail, celebrated the day of England's national saint, St George, by revealing the existence of "EU plots to carve up Britain."
"Secret plans" drawn up in Brussels included maps "wiping out" England and the English name of the body of water separating Britain from Europe, "the English Channel," in favour of the unpatriotic "Channel Sea," the papers claimed.
Reproductions of the maps provided by the newspapers divided Britain into "North Sea," "Atlantic" and "Trans-Manche" regions - the latter referring to the French name for the Channel, "la Manche."
"The words 'England' and 'Britain' are left off official maps of each area," the Daily Mail stormed, accusing the British government of being "fully behind the project" nevertheless.
But EU officials denied absolutely the existence of any such official maps, saying that the tabloids' stories were based solely on the existence of long-standing cooperation projects between administrative regions of different member states.
"If that is the greatest threat to England, then England will stand proud and safe for the next 1,000 years to come," the commission's top spokesman, Johannes Laitenberger, said.
The EU officials' argument appeared supported by the fact that the map reproduced by the Daily Mail originated not in Brussels, but the office of the Espace Manche Development Initiative, or EMDI - a joint Anglo-French project aimed at boosting cross-Channel cooperation.
The Daily Mail had not asked EMDI's permission to publish the map, the project's head, Bruno Thenail, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Besides, the current head of cross-Channel cooperation projects is an Englishman, Thenail said.
"If anything, it would be England which was about to annex Northern France," he said.
The tabloids in question are notoriously Eurosceptic and regularly portray EU initiatives as "attacks" on British sovereignty.