You can almost hear the sighs going around Europe, here we go again. Belgium, that tiny and as some would describe it, non-country, is having to go to the polls yet again today because they cannot keep their coalition governments together.
Few know or understand how Belgium works, a nation finally gaining independence thrown together out of the ashes of the Napoleonic wars, disparate Walloon’s and Flems united at the time in a common cause for independence who have, as all peoples pushed together against their will, outgrown their tolerance of each other.
The first mention of Belgium as an entity was in 496AD, when King Clovis of the Franks founded a kingdom which included a small region called Belgium. Since then it has been a political football, variously being owned, ravaged or tossed between a host of ruling families as Charlemagne’s grandsons divided the Frank empire in the 800’s, bought by Maximilian and subsumed into his Austrian empire as part of the Netherlands following his marriage to Mary of Burgandy in 1477, transfered again and again over the following few hundred years as most of Europe is racked by wars, being owned or occupied sometimes more than once by the Netherlands, Spain, Austria and France.
Finally, on 21st July 1831, nearly 20 years after the defeat of Napoleon by the British and allied armies, Leopold I becomes King of Belgium as it wins its independence from the Netherlands. Its inhabitants nothing to do with the original Celtic derived Belgae tribe from whom the country takes its name, it is now made up of Dutch speaking Flanders, French speaking Wallonia, a small enclave of German speakers and of course the ever present multi ethnic city of Brussels.
Long held to be the model by which the EU should aspire, a nation where all can live together it would at first glance seem the idealistic place to be. But now, as yet another election is needed there is open talk by leading politicians of breaking the country into two, indeed asking the voters in this election to support just that, and therein lies the opportunity that the EU has craved since its inception.
The ultimate aim of political union by the EU’s founding fathers was to have one nation across the whole of Europe, one capital and many regions, one Europa.
The potential for Brussels is that should Belgium cease to be, Brussels can claim itself, a region in its own right, a city no longer the capital of an extinct host nation but an autonomous capital of an EU empire.
This model of course can be seen elsewhere, in the US there is the District of Columbia which houses Washington as the US Federal Capital, across the other side of the globe there is Canberra, the Federal Capital of Australia which has its own region known as ACT or the Australian Capital Territory.
Should Brussels decide that it wants and desires to be a Federal Capital state, of which I have no doubt, then the prophetic words already printed on your passports (EU Citizen) could then legally become a reality rather than today’s fiction, as only nations can grant citizenship.
So, as I ponder this new politics in Europe, I wonder whether the ethnic divisions in Belgium, a clear result of the Europe wide policy of diversity, are by design, the first tangible planned step in the grand ideal of the end of nation states on the road to Europa.
I see, as many other do, the same fate awaiting the UK, as the underlying reasons for Belgium’s demise are not dissimilar to our own. In Belgium, language apart, it is the people of Flanders who have reached the end of their tether, are fed up with paying and subsidising those in a less productive Wallonia, whereas in the UK it is the English who are subsidising Wales, Scotland and NI whilst experiencing fewer and less well funded services themselves.
How long before the unequal politics of equalisation, the Barnet Formula, the West Lothian problem, finally becomes the straw that breaks the taxpayers backs and openly prompts the English to tell the others to leave, for that will see the UK broken down into the regions that the EU so desires, to be subsumed and swearing allegiance to the new city state of Brussels, capital region of Europa.