In the UK, many Remain voters have made the point that lasting peace in Europe needs to be considered one of the primary achievements of the European Union
. How valid is that claim? In order to find out, we analyzed Peter Brecke's Conflict Catalog
which documents violent deaths in 3,708 conflicts going all the way back to 1400. The result is the following infographic which estimates the number of violent deaths in wars in Europe between 1800 and 2016.
Back in the 1800s, continental Europe was ravaged by conflict after conflict. Between 1803 and 1815 alone, well over six million people lost their lives in the Napoleonic wars while the Hungarian Revolt and Franco Prussian war saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands more. The first half of the 20th century was of course the bloodiest period in the continent's history and according to Project InPosterum
(rather than Peter Brecke's global analysis of World War II deaths), 32,156,000 people died in WWII in Europe.
Soon after the conflict ended, the Greek Civil War
erupted in 1946, costing another 158,000 lives. Things suddenly started to improve when the European Economic Community was founded in 1957. For example, Europe only experienced 18,409 violent war deaths between 1961 and 1992. The European Union was established in 1993 and conflicts continued to be rare events. Violent deaths still occurred during the breakup of Yugoslavia, the Russo-Georgian War, the conflict in Donbass
However, those deaths certainly were not on a scale matching the extensive bloodshed of the 1800s and first half of the 20th century. That certainly backs up the argument that the European Union has played a major role in uniting and keeping the continent peaceful since its inception.