Friday, November 30, 2007

The Breakup of Belgium as a Model for Europe

Why the EU is undemocratic, and how a breakup of Belgium would expose that flaw

Our Flemish correspondent ProFlandria has been monitoring the situation in Belgium through various sources. Below is a summary he has prepared for Gates of Vienna readers.


The following is a lecture by John Laughland, the European Director of the European Foundation, which was given last Saturday in the Belgian federal parliament building in Brussels. It was posted at Brussels Journal in its entirety.

While Laughland’s focus is on the reaction of Europe to a Belgian crack-up, he indirectly documents why the Flemish nationalist movement can be a brake on the European Union’s undemocratic ambitions; he even mentions immigration in this context.
Map of Flanders
This explains why Vlaams Belang’s mission also serves ours. The European Union is rapidly replacing the national governments as the conduit for Islamization, and as the obstacle against resistance. If VB can successfully demonstrate that a nationalist movement can reverse the drain of state power from elected bodies to an unelected oligarchy without turning into the dreaded “N”-word, then citizens everywhere will be encouraged to take back the authority so freely surrendered by their governments.

This sequence of events is indispensable if we are to have any hope of stemming the tide of Islamization. Resistance is most effective at the grassroots level; within the European context, the member nations are that level. However, action at the national level is becoming impossible within the existing EU straitjacket.

Here are the relevant excerpts from the text:

The question of the breakup of Belgium is no longer taboo in the Western European press. On the contrary, it is discussed openly as a possible, even likely future event. [BBC News 24 did a 12-hour marathon on Belgium’s situation yesterday — summary here]

[…]

What will the attitude of the rest of Europe be to the breakup of Belgium? As one surveys the geopolitics of post Cold War Europe, one can say only that one is struck by the double standards with which the EU and the US treat the question of national independence.

On the one hand, since 1991, no fewer than fifteen new states have emerged on the European continent as a result of secessionist movements. […] Now, indeed, the European Union is actively supporting a sixteenth secession, that of Kosovo. […]

On the other hand, the West opposes secessions when they do not suit it geo-politically. […] The reasons why the West opposes secession in Moldova, Bosnia and elsewhere are geopolitical and ideological. […] In the case of Bosnia, that artificial state was elevated, during the Yugoslav war, to an icon of multiculturalism […].

In my view, Europe will oppose the breakup of Belgium for the same reasons.

Laughland then explains that “there is no question that an independent Flanders could be a viable state” [this argument is important because the opposite argument is used by those who oppose Flemish independence] because the size of its population and its established historical identity compares favorable with those of recently seceded states. He then states what he suspects will be the reason for European opposition to Flemish independence:
- - - - - - - - -
[…] it will not serve the cause of European integration. With the partial exception of Czechoslovakia, the breakup of multi-ethnic states in Eastern Europe has helped Europe integration — on the basis of “divide and rule”. Small bogus states with no real political existence provide good “lobby fodder” in the Council of Ministers — they take the EU’s money and vote how they are told. It is obvious that very few of the secessions in Europe since 1991 have occurred as a result of a desire for real independence, or else the new states would not immediately have joined the EU and NATO. […]

On the contrary, the breakup of Belgium would show that the fault-line which is at the heart of the European project runs right through the EU’s very capital. That fault-line is the contradiction between democracy and supranationalism. Flemings of course understand that a supranational state is inimical to democracy, and that it destroys it. The larger nations of Europe do not understand this because they are relatively influential within the EU and because the prominence of their national political life obscures the fact that they are, in fact, governed by the EU, which is a totally undemocratic and even anti-democratic organisation.

Laughland reminds his audience why the EU is undemocratic, and how a breakup of Belgium would expose that flaw:

[…] the main decisions are taken in secret by the unelected Commission and the unaccountable Council of Ministers. National parliaments are systematically emasculated by the EU, which gives governments [the Cabinet, instead of parliament — for US purposes, the Administration instead of Congress] the right to make laws, in secret. The fact that the defunct European Constitution is even now being re-introduced, having been rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005 (two founder member states of the EU) shows that the EU is prepared to override the results of democratic direct polls in order to achieve its aims. Democracy is actively suppressed by European integration.

[…] The EU is […] based on the historic reconciliation between the old countries of the original Holy Roman Empire — France, Germany, Italy and the Low Countries. The specifically Franco-German aspect of this reconciliation is mirrored in microcosm in the coexistence of the Flemings and Walloons within Belgium. Many Belgian leaders including the late King Baudoin indeed said that the EU was a sort of Greater Belgium. The collapse of the Belgian model would be an event of immense significance and would, in my view, deliver a further blow to the already faltering project of European integration.

Next Laughland explains why “an independent Flanders [should] not, therefore, immediately apply to re-join the EU, but that instead it negotiate its own terms of association”:

All of these [EU] treaties, starting with the Treaty of Rome, provide for the vast majority of legislative power to be transferred to the EU. All new member states have to adopt the totality of the so-called acquis communautaire (more than 80,000 pages of primary legislation) and therefore any state which signs such a treaty is no longer independent in any real sense. Of course the centralisation of power will increase only further with the reform treaty, in which states will lose further powers including over immigration. That treaty, indeed, contains a “enabling clause” which allows the EU to increase its own powers indefinitely and so further centralisation is inevitable.

[…] The “Europe of the regions” model is a trap which would only make Flanders into a sort of Wallonia, the recipient of EU aid in return for political compliance in everything.

Laughland then points out that free association with the EU has previously been negotiated by Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, the UK, Denmark, and Sweden, plus most of the new member states. He concludes:

The European Union now displays all the worst characteristics of Belgium itself: an impossibly complicated institutional structure which is kept that way deliberately in order to serve vested interests; an opaque and deliberately undemocratic decision-making process; a vast system of internal financing which is used to pervert the political process by buying off certain powerful interest groups; and of course rampant corruption. By showing up the Belgian model itself as a lie, the independence of Flanders would provide a great service to democracy and to the whole of Europe. Flanders, indeed, could show the way for other countries whose people would also like to leave the EU.

If Flanders succeeds in gaining independence from Belgium, Vlaams Belang indicates that for its part, the party will oppose any effort to join the European Union as a full member state.

From Vlaams Belang’s Statement of Principles:

3. Europe

The mutual cooperation between the European peoples within a civilizational and cultural community represents a historic opportunity for peace, stability and prosperity. The party is, however, very wary and critical of the European Union, with her bureaucracy and intrusion in matters where the sovereignty of the people should take precedence. The party is also of the opinion that the territory of the European Union must not expand beyond Europe’s borders. [emphasis mine]

8 comments:

Homophobic Horse said...

"The mutual cooperation between the European peoples within a civilizational and cultural community represents a historic opportunity for peace, stability and prosperity."

Orwellian. In western Europe it's been like that for 60 years now more or less without the EU.

Profitsbeard said...

Friesland (northern Netherlands) is next.

They're skeptical of what their citified cousins to the south have done to the land, with rampant immigration, and are mumbling about secession.

Any free zones will be the points for the Resistence to grow from.

Where they can sing:

"Laat de Leeuw niet in zijn hempie staan!"

("Don't leave the Lion standing in his nightshirt!" Or: Stand up for our rights!)

Alexis said...

I think Flemish independence would vastly reorient the priorities of Flanders.

For a while, the European Union probably seek to isolate Flanders as much as it can; the barrier between Flanders and Wallonia may actually become a wall. Irrespective of the EU, Flanders would likely desire to stay part of NATO. Yet, the worst aspect of Flanders independence for the European Union is if Flanders ignores it entirely. Brussels bureaucrats may rather like being hated; they can't stand being ignored.

I think Flanders would look more to the ocean. I could easily imagine that a Flemish navy would be stronger than any navy Belgium ever had. An independent Flanders would also foster better relations with Dutch-speaking peoples throughout the world, especially in Suriname, South Africa, Bali, and Irian Jaya. It would also focus more diplomatic energy on seeking good relations with the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand -- commonly known as the Anglosphere. It would probably seek to position itself between Anglospheric politics and Dutch-German-Scandavian politics.

Flemish independence will require soul searching, though. How many immigrants (even conservative Christian immigrants) would Flanders want from Suriname, Aruba, or Cape Province? How expansive or insular is Flemish nationalism? These questions must be asked, for the definition of Flemish nationalism effectively defines the scope of Flemish diplomacy.

I have one warning. An independent Flanders would not only be a thorn in the EU's side, but it would likely destabilize South Africa and Indonesia. It may even destabilize Algeria! With the power of linguistic nationalism carried by Flemish independence, Flemish separatism faces more obstacles than merely the European Union.

If independence becomes real, Flanders may wish increase spending on defense and customs enforcement in order to both ensure that any immigration to Flanders is legal and to keep out any marauding army that may decide to invade.

Wimbledon Womble said...

If a Super-State that encompassed a single culture could adequately represent majority interests and defend against common threats, while supporting regional/microcultural differences, then perhaps the EU would be a welcome force. As it stands, the EU is none of these things.

The EU appears bent upon merging Europe with the Arab world, magnifying threats to the lives and well-being of Europeans, working to bring about changes opposed by a majority of Europeans (i.e. accommodation to a "minority" verging on imposition sharia) and erasing all regional differences within Europe. The EU's political (possibly future military) ambitions are also tempered to a large degree on becoming a force powerful enough to oppose the US. This is ironic, since the US is the best friend Europe ever had, despite that Europe has always treated the US shabbily.

Europe is more microculturally diverse and does not have the same unifying history (or myth of origin, if you will) that the US has. Any attempt to compete with the US by building a parallel, though fundamentally inorganic, federal structure seems doomed to failure.

A united Europe needs to find another, looser way to proceed, throwing out all the preconceived notions of the absurd bureaucracy, uniformity-obsessed Statism, pro-Arabism and stupid anti-Americanism that now characterizes it.

Baron Bodissey said...

A united Europe needs to find another, looser way to proceed, throwing out all the preconceived notions of the absurd bureaucracy, uniformity-obsessed Statism, pro-Arabism and stupid anti-Americanism that now characterizes it.

Finding a new pardigm will be difficult. THe EU seems to be built on the UN model, with the same lack of accountability or transparency.

The anti-Americanism, esp. as espoused by de Gaulle, led to the eventual creation of not the EU but Eurabia...

...so perhaps it is not EU itself, but Eurabia that is the problem. There would still be problems -- the menacing of Europe by Iran, Russia's desire to return to the old glory, etc., but it would not be the current downward spiral that exists now.

It's so sad.

[Dymphna, using the Baron's computer. Shh! Don't tell him.]

Archonix said...

The idea of a united europe doesn't work. People look at Europe and tend to see a homogenous mass, especially from a distance - but they're all wrong. For starters there's the split that defines Belgian politics, and has been underneath much of discussion recently. North of the line between Wallonia and Flanders the land is germanic and south it's frankish. There's more than that, though. The germanic lands are split in to high and low germany, defined by the point where the language changes from high german to low german. England, scandanavia, most of the low coutries are low german. The germanic kingdoms, parts of France, austria and such are high german... there's the Roman kingdoms and the free german tribes. This doesn't even begin to account for the massive cultural differences between western and eastern europe.

The only way Europe could unite would be under a federal system that left the majority of power with the member states. However, a federal system would not last long in teh face of the bitter rivalries that exist between European nations and would inevitably fall apart. The alternative is to do what they're doing now and smash the state in order to replace it with a bigger state.

Europe will only be truly "united" on a commercial level. Trade unites far more than politics, so the best solution would be the free trade area that they claimed the EEC would provide. We have such a free trade area in the EFTA, and Flanders could join that if it wished to have the advantages of trade with EU members without the problem of EU interference. Being in the EFTA would also allow it to trade internationally without being forced to comply with EU edicts and tarrifs and trade barriers. Flanders has all the belgian ports in its territory so it will have no trouble with international trade, unless the EU decides to blockade one of the biggest ports in Europe.

If the newly liberated Flemish are sensible, they' opt to join the EFTA, and if they do that it may well prompt other nations to follow suite.

Anonymous said...

Don't just debate. Show your opinion online by voting YES to Free Europe Constitution at www.FreeEurope.info!

Росен said...

Interesting indeed... NATO bombed Serbia in order to split Kosovo from her and to ensure the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from this province. Under the nose of KFOR churches were burnt, civilians slaughtered etc.
What will they - NATO - do if Flanders decides to split from Eurabia proper?