Belgium remains hopelessly split. It is in a way the very embodiment of the European dream. Regionalism in Belgium has been fostered so successfully that the Flemish speaking part of the country now wants nothing to do with the Walloon or French speaking part of the country. The country has quite enough adopted EU law to keep it going. The Eurocrats only worry is there is no longer an official government in place to keep on forcing the new Directives onto the Belgian people. It’s a lovely irony, that European regionalism has destroyed the last vestiges of Belgian national authority (never strong),which in turn weakens the political method for forcing new EU law onto people in Belgium!
It also shows the power of regionalism, especially when it is backed up by linguistic, cultural and economic differences. The EU project generally is likely to splinter other nations. Indeed the scheme is based on divide and rule – setting Catalan against Castillian, Scot and English, Southern Italian against Northern Italian, Walloon against Fleming, Basque against Spaniard. The EU felt that if it weakened state power it could occupy the vacuum it helped create by taking new state power at the EU level.
What is might discover, in the longer term, is that it cannot contain the petty nationalisms it has helped release. The EU is playing a dangerous game with people’s snese of their own identity. The collapse of Belgium may not in the long run be as good as some EU fans think from the EU point of view. Member states have been very important so far in preventing dissent with the EU from getting out of hand, because they still have some legitimacy. The EU has no similar legitimacy to put in place, once the member states lose it as they have in Belgium.