Sunday 9 September 2007

You'll have had your chips?

Earlier in the week I wrote a few words about Belgium:
It is made up of 60% Dutch-speaking, free-market oriented Flemings in the north and 40% French-speaking, predominantly Socialist Walloons in the south. The Flemish economic output per person is 124 percent of the EU average, and there is growing resentment that Flemish taxes are being used to subsidize the poorer French-speaking south, where economic output is 90 percent of the EU average.
I also mentioned that I'd have some more to say on the Cockpit of Europe for what's going on in Belgium may well affect us here in Scotland.

The ongoing political crisis in Belgium is caused by the deep divisions between the Dutch and French communities. And unsurprisingly France itself is taking an interest:

Yesterday the conservative French newspaper Le Figaro published a column by Alexandre Adler in which Adler urged the French President Sarkozy to prepare for the annexation of Wallonia by France. Adler said Sarkozy should not miss this historic opportunity “to govern an enlarged France.”
Were that to happen we could expect the Flemish part of Belgium to join the Netherlands.

There is a catch however:

For Brussels, “historically a Flemish, but today a predominantly French-speaking and simultaneously a European and cosmopolitan city,” Sarkozy envisions a new status as European Capital District. “This will allow Brussels to become a truly quadrilingual capital of a united Europe. Naturally the EU will provide Brussels with the necessary funds.”

Then there is the small matter of Brussels being close to 50% Muslim Brussels having such a sizeable Muslim population...

And just how does this mess affect Scotland? Consider this view of what would happen in the event of a simple split between Flanders and Wallonia:

The fact that there would be two new states instead of a united Belgium will simply increase the number of member states from 27 to 28
Which brings us back to when I asked whether an independent Scotland would be allowed to join the EU:
I think that it's inconceivable that the EU would somehow stop an independent Scotland from joining the club. It's not just the oil, the fresh water, the minerals and the renewable energy. What matters is that we're part of what the EU considers to be theirs.
Belgium, Wallonia, Flanders and Scotland: the EU wants all of them. I maintain that an independent Scotland would be strongly encouraged to remain in the EU. Whether we should want to is quite another matter of course.

(Incidentally, if all of the above comes about France would have a population 25% greater than that of England and Eurocrats would probably have to learn Arabic.)


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

David Farrer
Nice to see you back on the web!

8 October 2007, 11:36:25 GMT+01:00
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Neil Craig
Since the Spanish Armada a, often the, major aim of British foreign policy was to keep Belguim out of the hands of the French/Germans/Spanish. The antagonism that would be stirred up by France extending to her linguistic boundary would be formidable. If we remember that Dutch is a form of Deutsch we are dealing with a linguistic frontier that goes back to Charlemagne. 
If the powers that be won't let the majority of people in the "nation" of Bosnia & Hercegovina who want to be Serbs or Croats do so, or the Kurds choose independence from Iraq (or indeed Turkey) because it is, to a very minor extent, politically useful (while insisting that the Kosovo & Krajina Serbs be expelled or murdered for a similar minor convenience) I don't think Belgians will get the option.

6 October 2007, 17:31:19 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Duffin
"...whether an independent Scotland would be allowed to join the EU..." 
Why would we want to, anyway? 
Aren't we always being told how successful our nearby small-country neighbours are - countries like Iceland and Norway? 
Why not emulate them? 
Scottish independence, as being pursued by the SNP, is nothing of the sort; it's just another anti-English whinge. 
Rise up and be a nation again!

13 September 2007, 11:56:25 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer
I imagine that the French would want to make Wallonia exactly like any other part of France. 
Asymmetrical government is more of a British thing.

12 September 2007, 19:38:45 GMT+01:00
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A German Blog mentioned, that the 'real' problem is, that Belgium has no proper gouvernement at the moment but this is necessarily if a new 'EU Constitution' should be ratified.  
(in German)

12 September 2007, 12:55:52 GMT+01:00
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Simon Jester
"France (mainland) 60 million plus Wallonia 3 million = 63 million" 
I see your point. As a self-certified pedant, I was considering splitting this hair even finer by wondering whether the "annexation" of Wallonia would produce a situation comparable with England and Wales...

11 September 2007, 19:54:09 GMT+01:00
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Henry North
What happens to the King of the Belgians though? 
Where does he go?

10 September 2007, 22:06:14 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

David Farrer
More on Brussels here: 
If the Flemings secede from Belgium the question what to do with Wallonia will cause the international community a bigger headache than what to do with Brussels. Brussels is not viable on its own either. Almost half its population are non-European Muslim immigrants – “eurabianisation” has already progressed considerably – and the Brussels region also receives large flows of Flemish subsidies.

10 September 2007, 19:08:20 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer
England 50 million. 
France (mainland) 60 million plus Wallonia 3 million = 63 million.

10 September 2007, 14:25:54 GMT+01:00
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Simon Jester
"Incidentally, if all of the above comes about France would have a population 25% greater than that of England" 
Less than 20%, if we're comparing mainland France to England alone. If you want to add in the overseas territories to the French population, shouldn't you compare it to the rest of the UK (except Scotland)?

10 September 2007, 13:25:19 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer
I must have read this too quickly: 
Over half the inhabitants of the Brussels region are of foreign origin, many of them from Morocco. Thanks to the Muslim vote Mr. Thielemans’s PS is the largest party in Brussels. Ten of the 17 PS members on the Brussels municipal council are Muslims. 
Original entry now altered.

10 September 2007, 11:00:34 GMT+01:00
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James Higham
...Then there is the small matter of Brussels being close to 50% Muslim... 
Really? How did that happen?

10 September 2007, 10:00:31 GMT+01:00
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David B. Wildgoose
Incidentally, Brussels could even be given a status similar to Washington, District of Columbia in the the U.S. After all, I'm not sure that the Netherlands would necessarily want somewhere 50% Muslim to add to their current problems. 
France on the other hand would love to have both EU capitals within their borders - they might even allow the status of Strasbourg to lapse.

10 September 2007, 08:12:08 GMT+01:00
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David B. Wildgoose
If Wallonia rejoins France, and Flanders rejoins the rest of the Netherlands then that would mean one fewer nation in the EU. The whole problem of numbers is that the current number of countries in the EU is at the maximum allowed by the rules. Belgium splitting up frees up a "slot" that could be used by Scotland without tortuous negotiations and haggling for advantage by all the current members.

10 September 2007, 08:07:45 GMT+01:00
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Bill (Scotland)
And just how does this mess affect Scotland? 
Whatever I may think about Scotland taking itself out of the UK, I have never bought into the alarmist talk by some folk that Scotland would have to renegotiate EU entry (if it wished to - and it is SNP policy, anyway, to remain in the EU); legally Scotland and England are equal members of the UK, whatever the differences in their sizes, populations and GDP - I'm not entirely certain of the precise legal status of NI, but the UK is the union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland into a country called 'Great Britain'; Wales is a dependency of England. So the departure of one partner, England or Scotland from the UK would mean it had effectively ceased to exist; no doubt people with a lot more constitutional expertise than me will say it is a lot more complicated, but I think in the world of 'realpolitik' that's what it amounts to. 
Whatever happens in Belgium, I'm sure they'll continue to make excellent chocolates and moules frites, so the world will not fall off its axis too much.

9 September 2007, 22:43:40 GMT+01:00