Although progress is now being made on the less controversial dossiers (discussions on constitutional change and social security should start later this week), the political crisis in Belgium is not entirely over yet, as foreign media will be delighted to hear. But do cultural and language differences really make the country fall apart?
Some analysts think it is, and some even put Belgium on a par with Yugoslavia as proof that rising nationalism will tear the EU apart. In this view, both Belgium and the EU are elitist projects doomed to fail due to lack of support from ordinary people:
If Belgium does go down it will provide only the latest and starkest reminder of the endurance of ethnic nationalism in modern Europe and the corresponding failure of elitist supra-nationalists to forge larger identities holding any real meaning for ordinary people. (FT)
But this is way too easy. First of all, I am not at all convinced that the differences within Belgium are too big for Belgium to continue as a country. And secondly, I very much doubt that the rise of ethnic nationalism in Belgium is a bottom-up process (it was not in Yugoslavia either, by the way). (more…)