Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Beginning Of The End For Belgium

Belgium hasn't got a government. In fact, it hasn't had one for five months, as politicians from the Dutch-speaking north and French-speaking south fail to reach agreement on anything, let alone a coalition. The country's not in any danger of immediate collapse, but an eventual split into two small nations seems likely, with the wealthy Flanders apparently more than able to support itself as a prosperous independent country. The less well-off Walloonia could end up being absorbed into France.

Inadvertently, the EU's got a lot to do with this. All across Europe, countries are proving it's possible to be both small and reasonably successful, as long as you're in the club. We used to talk about Ireland as an example of this, but now there's Slovenia - a country so delighted to be part of the EU it flies the blue European flag from its embassies around the world - as well as the Baltic states.

As these countries enjoy good times, residents of Flanders can be forgiven for casting envious eyes around. The same applies in Scotland which, lest we forget, this year elected a pro-independence government for the first time. It's quite an irony that an organisation created to bring Europe closer together is now so successful, it's actually fomenting the spirit of separatism. But then if everyone's in the EU, perhaps it doesn't matter so much which country we live in anymore.

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