Belgium ratified the EU’s Lisbon Treaty last week when, after much pressure, the Flemish regional parliaments OK-ed the treaty with only the Flemish Secessionist Vlaams Belang voting against the EU treaty. A Belgian government is now no longer needed and Belgium can return to its limbo situation of non-government.
The Belgian government of Prime Minister Yves Leterme has fallen. Belgium has been in a political crisis since the elections of June 10, 2007, when the parties in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of the country, voted for more autonomy, while the parties in Wallonia, the French-speaking southern half, voted for a status-quo. For six months, the Belgian politicians were unable to put a government together. Last December, King Albert II called back Guy Verhofstadt, the previous Prime Minister, who had lost the elections, to form an “interim government.” On March 18, Mr Leterme, a Flemish Christian-Democrat, formed a government without a government agreement between Flemings and Walloons on a common future for Belgium. The deadline of July 15 was set to reach this agreement. Yesterday evening the situation was still deadlocked and Mr Leterme offered his resignation to the King.
Belgium shares its capital, Brussels, with the European Union (EU). Being a multinational state, the country also acts as the model for the EU in the latter’s efforts to turn Europe into a multinational state. For the time being, however, Belgium seems to have served its purpose for EU Brussels. Last December, the EU institutions pressured the Belgians into forming a government because Belgium needed a Prime Minister to sign the Lisbon Treaty. A government was needed to have the Treaty ratified in Belgium. Last week, Belgium ratified the Treaty. Its government is now no longer needed.
The Flemish Parliament was the last of the Belgian regional parliaments which had not approved the Lisbon Treaty yet. The irony is that Mr Leterme pressured the members of the Flemish Parliament from his own Christian-Democrat Party to vote in favour of the treaty. He thereby doomed his own government.
During the past weeks there has been considerable international pressure on the Belgian politicians, especially Mr Leterme, to end the political stalemate.
As in all 27 member states of the European Union, three quarters of Belgium’s annual legislation emanates from the European authorities in Brussels. As everywhere, the Belgian Parliament merely stamps its approval to the directives issued by the European Commission and submitted to the Parliament by the Belgian government. Because of the Belgian political crisis there was no government to submit the EU directives to the Parliament for approval.
Moreover, without a government Belgium cannot initiate the ratification process of the European Constitutional Treaty, signed last week in Lisbon. This treaty, in which Belgium and the other EU members renounce their national sovereignty to the EU authorities, was signed on Belgium’s behalf by Mr Verhofstadt. Belgium needs a government which can present the treaty to Parliament for ratification.
This situation, in which not a single European directive could be implemented in the EU’s host country, nor the European Constitution ratified, is one which the Eurocracy could not allow to continue. Hence, the pressure on Mr Leterme to come to a deal with Mr Verhofstadt.
More on Belgium and the Belgian crisis:
A Throne in Brussels: Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianisation of Europe
Author: Paul Belien
Political Crisis in Belgium Deepens, 26 June 2008
Wilders Suggests Reuniting Flanders and Netherlands, 12 May 2008
Keeping Up Appearances: Belgium Launches International PR Campaign, 4 February 2008
(See list at end of this article for older articles)