During the last decades the map of Europe has changed considerably. New claims for independent statehood were brought forward and demanded for recognition. These claims had to be answered by the European Union and its member states. This article evolves around the idea that state recognition is as much a matter of politics as it is of law. It starts from the assumption that ‘who we are defines what we see, claiming, that EUropean identity, the images the EU and the member states hold about themselves, shape the mental maps they hold of territories and space. Building on this identity a geopolitical imaginary is formed, which can be defined as ideas, allowing actors to ascribe meaning to territories, establish order in a seemingly chaotic world by means of classification and categorisation and allow to develop strategies for action. The geopolitical imaginary of EUrope contains the vision, that if all states were more like EUrope itself, the world would be a better place: a world determined not by power and coercion, but by rules, norms and values; with conflict mechanisms, not based on the rule of the strongest, but the rule of law; stability, created through common rules, negotiation and economic prosperity; and a determination not to let ‘blunt power-politics prevail. This imaginary shapes the way in which Europe makes meaning of claims for statehood and decides which claims to recognise as legitimate. The different elements of the imaginary sometimes contradict each other: law may have to take the back seat in the quest for stability or justice. Law is open to creative interpretations to allow the ‘right claims for recognition to prevail and the ‘wrong ones to be rejected The tool of recognition is caught between legal arguments and political considerations, between normative visions and pragmatic possibilities.