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.
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:
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[…] 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:
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]