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Has the Euro enabled Belgium’s ‘Big Crisis’?

There is an interesting article about the current political crisis in Belgium on Libertarian.be. Yes, yes, I know, when is Belgium not having a political crisis? But if this article is correct, this might be The Big One… and it could be the single currency, the €uro, that made it all possible.

11 comments to Has the Euro enabled Belgium’s ‘Big Crisis’?

  • Paul Marks

    I do not agree that the major determiner of the value of a currency is the stablity of the country (or the government) – this was the view of some of the German Historical School (whom I despise), but that is not my reason for opposing the view.

    For example, during the collapse of the Confederacy (defeat on the battlefield, the Union in occupation of ever more land and about to win the war) there were a few months when the value of the Confederate Dollar actually started to hold its value – because the Confederate printing presses (the real reason for the Confederate inflation) had broken down.

    As for Belgium:

    I wish the Flemish would break away from both Belgium and the E.U. – without getting away from the latter the “independence” of the Flemish would be an illusion.

    I am not a “secession is always praxeologically sound” man, I have little time for secession if it is (for example) to defend slavery and maintained by HIGHER taxes and MORE fiat money inflation. But if people in an area seek to get this area out from under the control of a bunch of welfare program seekers I am all in favour of it.

    And, in any case, the “Flemish nationalists” are correct – “Belgium” was an artificial creation of a French speaking elite imposed on the majority of the population (for which that majority are still paying for).

    There is an historical difference between Flanders and Holland (due to the Hapsburgs keeping control of this part of the Low Countries), but it does not justify a country called Belgium (and neither does a group of tribes during the Roman Empire).

    As for Proportional Representation and the “magic circle” of backroom deal, backscratching, political party alliance governments it leads to, well Belguim certainly does not show it in a good light. Even if one does not believe that these “elections that always leave the same groups in government – even if they are sitting in different seats” are a front for a child sex ring (which many people in Belgium, however mistakenly, do believe).

  • Jacob

    I don’t know if breaking Belgium into two statelets is a bad thing. Why would it be bad ?
    If the Euro enables this breakup – kudos to the Euro.
    Maybe Flanders could break away from Belgium, and from the EU, and still use the Euro as currency ?

    Of course, it won’t happen, they’ll find some way out.

  • I don’t know if breaking Belgium into two statelets is a bad thing. Why would it be bad ?

    It would be a very good thing. Who knows? The idea might prove infectious.

  • Frederick Davies

    Breaking up Belgium (or any of Europe’s states, no matter how artificial) would be a bad thing, and is probably what the EU bureaucrats are hoping for. It would be far, far easier for the EU to dominate and manipulate small statelets without enough economic clout to stand up to it than the current lot. A break-up of Belgium will not necessarily (or is even likely to) involve the separate parts leaving the EU, and as a result the power and influence of “Brussels” would likely increase.
    It was not the “non” of a minor state that stopped the EU constitution (well… delayed it at least), but the “non” of a major one. Ignoring the democratic will of a part of a divided France or a small state is peanuts for the EU bureaucracy, but ignoring one of the big states is far more dangerous. “Divide and rule” is as valid for the EU now as it was for Rome in Antiquity.
    Unless there was a clear indication that the parts of a divided Belgium were going to leave the EU, such an occurrence can only be viewed as a further strengthening of EU power, and I cannot see how that could be good for freedom in Europe.

  • Breaking up Belgium (or any of Europe’s states, no matter how artificial) would be a bad thing, and is probably what the EU bureaucrats are hoping for. It would be far, far easier for the EU to dominate and manipulate small statelets without enough economic clout to stand up to it than the current lot.

    I disagree. What exactly is ‘economic clout’? How does Belgium have ‘economic clout’ in a way that Flanders would not? Resisting the EU does not require economic anything, it requires political will, nothing more. All it takes is enough pissed off people.

  • Paul Marks

    I know about this “Europe of the Regions” thing that Mr Davies is pointing to. For example the idea that England should be broken up into regions is clearly to increase E.U. power – and the regions themselves make no sense (for example what have the towns and villages of Northamptonshire got to do with Nottingham – the supposed “capital of the East Midlands”, and so on)

    However, in this particular case the argument is not valid.

    Belgium, or rather the political elite, is part of the vile heart of the E.U. – and independent Flanders might just get out of the E.U. (if only to prevent the subsidy of the French speakers via the E.U. after the Belgium subsidy route was cut off).

    Belgium get out? Never – even if the E.U. collapsed, the ruling elite in Belgium would still most likely pretend it was up and running (a bit like the “post” communist elite in Serbia in relation to Yugoslavia).

  • guy herbert

    I don’t understand. Francophone and Flemish Belgium already had a common currency, the glorious Belgian Franc for many years. Could it be that the euro is just contingent. That doesn’t mean economics isn’t involved.

    Wollonia has been in relative decline for decades, which means the inhabitants of Flanders have started to resent “carrying” it. This doesn’t require a difference in language either. Compare the restiveness of northern Italy or growing English sentiment in favour of Scots independence.

    A heavy state will help by increasing the moment at either end, which helps to explain the recent exacerbation of the Scots-English divide – given the spurt in the size of government, the English feel they are carrying more. It’s not necessarily wholly rational: on that basis, England ought to resent Wales more.

    My suspicion is that Flanders is a big beneficiary of “globalisation” – i.e. recently freer world trade – given its distribution, merchant banking and shipping traditions – and that’s accelerated the drift apart.

  • Frederick Davies

    I admit that Belgium is not the best case for my thesis, but still, it would be a precedent that would make the break-up of bigger states more likely; if for nothing else, it would be a bad thing.

  • Pascal

    I thought that not having a government was a good thing…and I am pretty sure that life for the average Belgian is pretty much unchanged.

    I would also argue that thanks to the Euro, one realises that we don’t need politicians anywhere as much as they think we do, as they can squabble without ill effects on the economy.

  • Nick M

    Paul is right. A “Europe of the regions” would be easier for the EU to dominate which is the only reason they came up with such a scheme. As a Geordie I’m glad my folk in the NE deep-sixed the notion. The profound lack of understanding displayed by Brussels and Westminster (and the huge sums spent on advertising the idea) are staggering. Apart from ignoring the (bleeding obvious to anyone in the NE) difference between Geordies, Mackems, Smoggies and Monkey Hangers they also completely ignored the fact that us Northerners are fiercely English (check out the etymology of “Geordie” or the lamentable history of cross-border skirmishes with the Jocks).

    Of course as Paul suggests it also ignored the differences between town and country. How could such a twisted union suit an advertising exec in Jesmond (Newcastle’s Chelsea – sort of) and a farmer in the upper Tyne Valley simultaneously?

    Tyne, BTW, is recorded as the name of the river by Ptolomy. That’s history as the battles of Celts and Romans, Saxons and Danes, English and Scots are. And that pig-ignorant oaf Prescott was going to wipe that out with his regional assembly (presumably between pints of bitter and “having a Clinton” with the hired help)…

    Paul, I was a student at Nottingham University between ’92 and ’95. During that time there was a big (and I think sensible, and ultimately successful) campaign to make the City of Nottingham a unitary authority. It is very different from the villages of Northamptonshire or even Nottinghamshire.

    Nottingham may not be the “Capital of the East Midlands” – an odd idea at the best of times – but it is certainly the best and biggest city in the area. I seem to recall the ’92 university prospectus describing the city as the “Queen of the East Midlands” which (I thought at the time) considering the opposition consisted of Leicester wasn’t saying much… But it was a nice town and I had a lot of fun there.

  • Paul Marks

    There used to be a very strong Conservative student represesentation in Nottingham, and (wonder of wonders) Conservative academics – although one man I knew killed himself (he was an intelligent man and understood which way the country was going – and decided he did not wish to see further decline).

    Northamptonshire is an urban country these days (much to my irritation), so my point was not really “village versus town” – it was the fact that Northamptonshire has nothing to do with Nottinghamshire (other the fact that they sound similar).

    People in Northampton (and other such places) do not look to Nottingham – they look to London.

    As for Kettering we also tend to look to London (rather than even to Northampton) – but we also look east, to Peterborough (the Soke of Peterborough was traditionally considered part of Northamptonshire). My own family were born in London, but both my Mother and my Father lived in Cambridgeshire for part of the 1940’s so they tended to be part of the faction of Kettering people who looked east, to the Fen people as friends. Although (of course) the gentle hills and old woods of Norhamptionshire were very different from the “big sky” fen county.

    On Nottingham itself. I see no problem with it being a County Borough again (as Leicester is) – although the modern term “Unitary Authority” sounds ugly.

    On the North East – sadly the “regional government” stuff is still in place (all the executive agencies and so on) because the govenment (both in London and the E.U.) want it.

    However, I agree that an “elected assembly” would have made things even worse. And I also agree that places like County Durham (and County Durham is a rather diverse place itself – after all Durham and Sunderland are wildly different towns) have little in common with Newcastle – although the rest of Northumberland has little in common with Newcastle.

    One “modernization” that did actually work was “Cumbria”. Logically it should have been a mess like the rest of the 1960’s and early 1970’s local govenrment reorganizations (creating places like “Humberside” or “Avon”, trying to change the name of Shropshire to “Slop” or whatever it was, and so on).

    However, somehow putting together Cumberland and Westmoreland with a large junk of Lancashire worked (at least sort of). It is a county of lakes and hills (and a few forests), and a decent sea coast – looking partly to old rivals in Scotland, and partly to the Isle of Man and to Ireland beyond it.

    I would still have opposed the plan – but I do not claim that Cumbria is a mess, like the rest of the Wilson-Heath-Walker “reforms” in England, Scotland and Wales (I am told that what was done in Scotland and Wales was worse than what was done in England – but I know little about these places).

    Of course under “regional government” Cumbria (as well as Lancashire and Cheshire) is supposed to be ruled by Manchester – this is quite mad.