Saturday, June 12, 2010

Belgium on the Verge of Break-Up?

After more than a half century of careful implementation of the policies away from national sovereignty and toward greater and tighter economic and monetary integration of European countries, and on the verge of finishing the experiment with fiscal and political integration, Europe may be no more than a name for a geographical area after all.

First it was the Greek sovereign debt crisis (it's far from over). Sovereign debt crisis spread quickly to other southern European countries, and now may be starting to threaten the euro core countries like France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened Germany over Greece that France would pull out of euro unless Germany agreed to the rescue package. Increasing number of Germans, who didn't want euro that much to begin with, want their Deutsche Mark back. Greeks are rioting against austerity measures pushed by non-Greeks.

And now, Belgium, a country of 10 million people whose capital, Brussels, is host to pan-European and international organizations (the EU headquarters, NATO, etc.), may decide to break itself up.

Belgians vote on future, united country in doubt (6/12/2010 AP via Breitbart)

"BRUSSELS (AP) - Belgium's 6.5 million Dutch and 4 million French-speakers are locked in an unhappy, quarrelsome union, and voters in a general election Sunday might well favor the prospect of a political divorce down the road.

"A mainstream Flemish party that is expected to do well is invoking the concept of irreconcilable differences to seek a separation and, in time, take the country's Dutch-speaking Flanders region into the European Union as a separate country.

"This is a nightmare scenario for the poorer Wallonia, Belgium's Francophone south, which greatly depends on Flemish funds.

"Early elections were called after Premier Yves Leterme's five-party coalition fell apart April 26 in a dispute over a bilingual voting district.

"That issue has pushed the New Flemish Alliance—a tiny, centrist party only a few years ago—into pole position: it is forecast to win a quarter of the vote in Flanders.

"Its leader—and perhaps Belgium's next premier—Bart de Wever, 39, wants an orderly breakup of Belgium by shifting the national government's last remaining powers, notably justice, health and social security, to Flanders and Wallonia. That would complete 30 years of ever greater self-rule for the two regions.

"...Flanders tends to be conservative and free-trade minded. Wallonia's long-dominant Socialists have a record of corruption and poor governance. Flanders has half the unemployment of Wallonia and a 25 percent higher per-capita income, and Dutch-speakers have long complained that they are subsidizing their Francophone neighbors." [Click on the article title to read the entire article.]

Dutch-speaking Flanders does not want to subsidize French-speaking Wallonia any more. It seems like a microcosm of the EU and euro zone: the industrious and productive north doesn't want to subsidize the south any more.

A tiny German-speaking Community which was part of Prussia before the World War I and which is part of Wallonia is also pushing for more autonomy.


Post a Comment