Meet the President of Europe

Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy. Get used to the name. He is the first President of the European Union, which with the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon by all the 27 EU member states in early November was transformed into a genuine United States of Europe.

The President of Europe has not been elected; he was appointed in a secret meeting of the heads of government of the 27 EU member states. They chose one of their own. Herman Van Rompuy was the Prime Minister of Belgium. I knew him when he was just setting out, reluctantly, on his political career.

To understand Herman, one must know something about Belgium, a tiny country in Western Europe, and the prototype of the EU. Belgians do not exist as a nation. Belgium is an artificial state, constructed by the international powers in 1830 as a political compromise and experiment. The country consists of 6 million Dutch, living in Flanders, the northern half of the country, and 4 million French, living in Wallonia, the southern half. The Belgian Dutch, called Flemings, would have preferred to stay part of the Netherlands, as they were until 1830, while the Belgian French, called Walloons, would have preferred to join France. Instead, they were forced to live together in one state.

Belgians do not like their state. They despise it. They say it represents nothing. There are no Belgian patriots, because no-one is willing to die for a flag which does not represent anything. Because Belgium represents nothing, multicultural ideologues love Belgium. They say that without patriotism, there would be no wars and the world would be a better place. As John Lennon sang “Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.”

In 1957, Belgian politicians stood at the cradle of the European Union. Their aim was to turn the whole of Europe into a Greater Belgium, so that wars between the nations of Europe would no longer be possible as there would no longer be nations, the latter all having been incorporated into an artificial superstate.

A closer look at Belgium, the laboratory of Europe, shows, however, that the country lacks more than patriotism. It also lacks democracy, respect for the rule of law, and political morality. In 1985, in his book De Afwezige Meerderheid (The Absent Majority) the late Flemish philosopher Lode Claes (1913-1997) argued that without identity and a sense of genuine nationhood, there can also be no democracy and no morality.

One of the people who were deeply influenced by Dr. Claes’s thesis was a young politician named Herman Van Rompuy. In the mid-1980s, Van Rompuy, a conservative Catholic, born in 1947, was active in the youth section of the Flemish Christian-Democrat Party. He wrote books and articles about the importance of traditional values, the role of religion, the protection of the unborn life, the Christian roots of Europe and the need to preserve them. The undemocratic and immoral nature of Belgian politics repulsed him and led to a sort of crisis of conscience. Lode Claes, who was near to retiring, offered Herman the opportunity of succeeding him as the director of Trends, a Belgian financial-economic weekly magazine. It is in this context that I made Herman’s acquaintance. He invited me for lunch one day to ask whether, if he accepted the offer to enter journalism, I would be willing to join him. It was then that he told me that he was considering leaving politics and was weighing the options for the professional life he would pursue.

I am not sure what happened next, however. Maybe word had reached the leadership of the Christian Democrat Party that Herman, a brilliant economist and intellectual, was considering leaving politics; perhaps they made him an offer he could not refuse. Herman remained in politics. He was made a Senator and entered government as a junior minister. In 1988, he became the party leader of the governing Christian-Democrats.

Our paths crossed at intervals until 1990, when the Belgian Parliament voted a very liberal abortion bill. The Belgian King Baudouin (1930-1993), a devout Catholic who suffered from the fact that he and his wife could not have any children, had told friends that he would “rather abdicate than sign the bill.” The Belgian politicians, convinced that the King was bluffing, did not want the Belgian people to know about the King’s objections to the bill. I wrote about this on the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal and was subsequently reprimanded by the Belgian newspaper I worked for, following an angry telephone call from the then Belgian Prime Minister, a Christian-Democrat, to my editor, who was this Prime Minister’s former spokesman. I was no longer allowed to write about Belgian affairs for foreign newspapers.

In April 1990, the King did in fact abdicate over the abortion issue, and the Christian-Democrat Party, led by Herman Van Rompuy, who had always prided himself on being a good Catholic, had one of Europe’s most liberal abortion bills signed by the college of ministers, a procedure provided by the Belgian Constitution for situations when there is no King. Then they had the King voted back on the throne the following day. I wrote about the whole affair in a critical follow-up article for The Wall Street Journal and was subsequently fired by my newspaper “for grievous misconduct”. A few weeks later, I met Herman at the wedding of a mutual friend. I approached him for a chat. I could see he felt very uncomfortable. He avoided eye contact and broke off the conversation as soon as he could. We have not spoken since.

Herman’s political career continued. He became Belgium’s Budget Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Speaker of the Chamber of Representatives and finally Prime Minister. He kept publishing intellectual and intelligent books, but instead of defending the concept of the good, he now defended the concept of “the lesser evil.” And he began to write haiku.

Two years ago, Belgium faced its deepest political crisis ever. The country was on the verge of collapse following a 2003 ruling by its Supreme Court that the existing electoral district of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV), encompassing both the bilingual capital Brussels and the surrounding Dutch-speaking countryside of Halle-Vilvoorde, was unconstitutional and that Parliament should remedy the situation. The ruling came in response to a complaint that the BHV district was unconstitutional and should be divided into a bilingual electoral district Brussels and a Dutch-language electoral district Halle-Vilvoorde. This complaint had been lodged by… Herman Van Rompuy, a Flemish inhabitant of the Halle-Vilvoorde district.

In 2003, however, the Christian-Democrats were not in government and Herman was a leader of the opposition. His complaint was intended to cause political problems for Belgium’s Liberal government, which refused to divide the BHV district because the French-speaking parties in the government refused to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court. The Flemish Christian-Democrats went to the June 2007 general elections with as their major theme the promise that, once in government, they would split BHV. Herman campaigned on the issue, his party won the elections and became Flanders’ largest party.

Belgium’s political crisis dragged on from June until December 2007 because it proved impossible to put together a government consisting of sufficient Dutch-speaking (Flemish) and French-speaking (Walloon) politicians. The Flemings demanded that BHV be split, as instructed by the Supreme Court; the Walloons refused to do so. Ultimately, the Flemish Christian-Democrats gave in, reneged on their promise to their voters, and agreed to join a government without BHV being split. Worse still, the new government has more French-speaking than Dutch-speaking ministers, and does not have the support of the majority of the Flemings in Parliament, although the Flemings make up a 60% majority of the Belgian population. Herman became the Speaker of the Parliament. In this position he had to prevent Parliament, and the Flemish representatives there, from voting a bill to split BHV. He succeeded in this, by using all kinds of tricks. One day he even had the locks of the plenary meeting room changed so that Parliament could not convene to vote on the issue. On another occasion, he did not show up in his office for a whole week to avoid opening a letter demanding him to table the matter. His tactics worked. In December 2008, when the Belgian Prime Minister had to resign in the wake of a financial scandal, Herman became the new leader of the predominantly French-speaking government which does not represent the majority of Belgium’s ethnic majority group. During the past 11 months, he has skillfully managed to postpone any parliamentary vote on the BHV matter, thereby prolonging a situation which the Supreme Court, responding to Herman's own complaint in 2003, has ruled to be unconstitutional.

Now, Herman has moved on to lead Europe. Like Belgium, the European Union is an undemocratic institution, which needs shrewd leaders who are capable of renouncing everything they once believed in and who know how to impose decisions on the people against the will of the people. Never mind democracy, morality or the rule of law, our betters know what is good for us more than we do. And Herman is now one of our betters. He has come a long way since the days when he was disgusted with Belgian-style politics.

Herman is like Saruman, the wise wizard in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, who went over to the other side. He used to care about the things we cared about. But no longer. He has built himself a high tower from where he rules over all of us.



Paul Belien is the author of A Throne in Brussels – Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianisation of Europe, Imprint Academic, Exeter (UK), Charlottesville, VA (US).




Paul Belien's article

Paul Belien's article is far and away the best coverage of the recent EU appointments to appear anywhere in the world press. Herman Van Rompuy's moral and intellectual collapse is a sad fable of our times, contemporaneously accompanied by proof of a similar corruption among scientists dominating U.N. global warming studies -- who deliberately withheld data from global warming skeptics and denied them access to leading peer-reviewed journals. (see


The EU is merely a new permutation of an old Empire. Remember back in 1989, Otto von Habsburg saying that the EU (then the EC) "is living largely by the heritage of the Holy Roman Empire" . . . ? He basically called it the Fourth Reich, by that statement (German: Heiliges Römisches Reich). Barroso called the EU an "empire" back in 2007, although he didn't say which one. Helmut Kohl, who is ultimately responsible for starting the conflict in the Balkans (which resulted in the absorption of several Eastern European states into this Union/Empire), said that "(t)he future will belong to the Germans . . . when we build the House of Europe" (not any other nation on the continent).

I cannot reply to Fjordman's old article titled "Why We Need Germany" now, but that article's got it completely wrong on so many points. Germany is in a dominant position over the EU; the "federal" oligarchy in Brussels is actually Berlin's puppet, and has been for decades. (Where was the decision to appoint van Rompuy made? Berlin. Who did the Irish Taoiseach have to present his plans for re-running the Lisbon Treaty referendum to? The German Chancellor.) Germany needs to get out of Europe's way once more.

Nice to learn about Van Rompuy, if not internet it would be hard

Mcfrans as usual consider democracy higher than mixture of conservatism and liberalism.  I have no words, how can one be so blind... If you consider yourself conservative-liberal then your natural goal should be conservative-liberalism and not stupid democracy.With such a goal you may make an political alliance with many leftists.



Conservatives never gain majority in democracy,they may be in majority only if this democracy was recently established. Later this is one way road to hell. As Mr Bielen described, Van Rompoy is a classical example of conservative demoralized by democratic political system.  Stand of king Baduain who refused to sign abortion bill is worth mentioning as well. Even monarchist marionette have more honor and dignity than a democrat politician. As Gomez Davila rightfully pointed out - Love of the people is an aristocratic calling. The democrat only loves the people at election time.

 pale rider,

How ignorant (and supposedly democratic) masses behave we can witness today. In Poland for example no one really cares that we have some new president in Brussels. I doubt that situation elsewhere is any different. 




Welcome back, Monarchist. Marcfrans defined what he meant by democracy, which is what conservative Americans mean by democracy: self-government by the people through institutions whose power is limited by the checks and balances and the individual rights enshrined in a written constitution. What Marcfrans and most Americans mean by democracy is a mixed government with important democratic elements. To be more precise in your criticism, you might consider how the democratic elements undermine the integrity of such systems, rather than attack such systems as a whole, which are largely designed to check and control the democratic elements.

There is an interesting portrait of monarchy in Sienkiewicz's With Fire and Sword on which you might like to comment. The monarchy permits the near destruction of the country in order to destroy a potential rival. Only the hair's breadth awakening of the king himself at the very end prevents the disaster from being complete.

RE: If only

Blueglasnost, that reminds me of the election of Sarkozy a couple of years ago. Those who excitedly cheered his election as the triumph of Classical Liberalism over Socialism were in for a big disappointment.

No need for a Lisbon Treaty, really; national politics has been dead for years. The only difference is that we now have it on paper. Our national parliaments are overrated theatres run by a powerful class of bureaucrats who, in true Bilderberg fashion, have made it their primary goal to keep the ignorant masses under the illusion that the people are determining the course of the nation, while the real power brokers are gradually implementing their own grand vision of that which they consider to be a New and Improved Europe.

As for your question, I do not see the EU as an opportunity at all. It would not be befitting of conservatives to force our ideas upon society as the European Union has been doing. Remember, society is organic. You don't 'correct' the wrongs in society overnight. In fact, the whole point of Conservatism is that you cannot create a perfect society. Ever. You can only hold on to or return to certain foundational truths, traditions, virtues and principles, for the sake of liberty and order, while accepting that perfect harmony will never exist.

I do not believe we can really reverse all damage that has been done to people's minds. I think all we could do is reveal the true nature of the beast by stripping off its fancy clothing and pointing out that the policies and philosophy of the PC elite under the banner of progress, have been detrimental to the well-being of society. History, I think, is the key. History is the one thing that we cannot change and that we can allow to speak for itself. State-funded education is the main tool by which the current elite is trying to brainwash citizens from the cradle so as to make sure they do not dare question the need for European unification, and modern societal 'values'. Modern-day History classes in the West are probably the clearest example of the PC quasi-dictatorship's infiltration.

If true conservatives ever make up the majority of Europeans, we need to set the record straight and reform education, and history classes especially. Not by presenting our own selection of history as the PC elite does, but by allowing people to see the whole picture again so that people can learn to [re]appreciate and be proud of their own roots and culture, while breaking free from the utopian and self-loathing delusions that they have grown up with. People are fallen by nature and inclined to evil. If only people would recognize this truth and escape from the delusional fantasy world they are living in. They'd certainly be in for a rude awakening though.

Just some thoughts I had after reading your message.

Best regards.


Thank you for your reply, it was highly interesting. As I said, the thoughts I wrote down are but wishful thinking, I am a fierce opponent of the whole EU behemoth whose tendencies towards authoritarianism are extremely worrisome. Of course, I agree with what you say. I only wanted to find whether everyone was like-minded on BJ. Sarkozy is an adequate example of that. Mr Van Rompuy is another one; if he ended up corrupt, although he began as a conservative, we ought to assume that could befall anyone else.

I most definitely concur on your piece about history, I truly was frightened as I attended a 'constitutional law' course about the EU (it sounded strange from the very beginning, the EU being no state, it is hard to imagine it is supposed to have been bestowed upon a constitution), and the professor announced with a mile-wide grin that it was a lovely idea to teach 'European' history. We all know such a thing does not exist and would be a pure construct, developments were different in all European countries, on several occasions the destinies of two countries met and their history is definitely intermingled, but still distinct. The aim is obviously to use such 'teachings' as propaganda in order to fuel the EU's much besmirched image. As you said, that would amount to brainwashing. This should be no wonder since we all know the EU has been doing its best to suppress everything that obstructed its sprawling. Its so-called anti-discrimination legislation being the worst piece in my humble opinion. I agree any conservative recovery must begin with teaching true history and all the facets thereof.

Rest assured I am not delusional enough as to believe the EU can be reformed, let alone that it must endure. My only regret is none of our French political parties advocate immediate withdrawal from the EU as UKIP do in Britain.

Best regards.

@ Monarchist: it all depends on what you define as 'conservative', if you are seeking for a majority of Burkean conservatives, I am fairly certain your quest is doomed, which is quite unfortunate to me as I consider myself as a Burkean. On the other hand, there may be some enduring conservative majorities in parts of the USA or Australia, 'conservative' corresponding to a certain attachment to free markets, individual liberty, small government, Christian values, established institutions (though not the PC ones) and tradition. I confess I cannot think of any European countries with a majority of genuine conservatives, those who go under that name being typical 'centre-right' softies (e.g.: Reinfeldt in Sweden, Sarkozy in France, Cameron in Britain). However, there is some hope as far as Britain is concerned, the Britons being far more reluctant to yield over their station as a sovereign nation (which has been much battered over the past few years), breaking off with the EU could rekindle some old instincts, and light up the flame of conservatism again. The next general election will be a yardstick in many respects. UKIP is gathering momentum and support as we speak, and could very well wreck Mr Cameron's efforts and thus pave the way for a renewal within the Conservative Party (should it fail to enter 10, Downing Street). There is none for France, as far as I am concerned, I consider my country as lost.

Best regards.

@ Blueglasnost

I'm sorry for my belated reply. I entirely agree with what you wrote and I sympathise with your doubts as to the future of your country. In my view, European history is a misnomer because it implies that the nations founded by Europeans far away from the mother continent somehow have nothing to do with Europe. As far as I am concerned, I am a Fleming and a Westerner. That is not to say I deny being European and that there are differences between Europe and non-European Western nations, but the idea of a strictly European civilization, I think, is problematic given the enormous internal differences over the course of the history of the European continent, as well as the significant influence of pre-Islamic Middle Eastern and North African (or Mediterranean) peoples in shaping Western civilization. Turkey is said to be geographically European, while Armenia is generally considered not to be European. Yet Armenia is by all means more of a Western nation to my mind than Asia Minor has been since it was invaded by the Seljuk Turks. Despite all the wars that were waged against the Ottoman invaders, they would now have us believe that Turkey belongs to our (i.e. "European") civilization but not the United States or Australia. I think it is just absurd.

By the way, Blueglasnost, it is a pity you're not accepting emails.


It has been remedied. You may now e-mail me, should you wish to.
By the way, I quite agree with your depiction of a Western civilisation stretching far beyond the sole European Continent. Countries such as Australia are much more willing to defend themselves and assume their Western identity than many a country belonging to the European "cradle".

If only...

It is no great news, is it not? We all knew Mr Van Rompuy was Mrs Merkel's favourite all along. He wants to implement EU-wide taxes, that ought to be enough to curry favour with Eurocrats of all stripes. Mr Belien's insight is interesting, I did not know Van Rompuy used to be such a conservative, of course, I had read he was conservative, however, I remained sceptical, seeing as being a conservative in Europe does not mean much nowadays. This should resound as a potent warming to all BJ readers; never give in to temptation.


There is one question I would like to ask; has ever one of you imagined what an extraordinary 'tool' the EU might be, if somehow the conservatives managed to get elected in the EU Parliament, thus planting members in the Commission, and controlling the whole apparatus. That could be a formidable way to wipe out PC and multi-cult from within, and eventually dissolve the behemoth (I imagine that would have pleased Hobbes) once the deed has been carried out. Of course, this is just wishful thinking and such endeavours would be extremely risky, I remain firmly opposed to such institutions, which are, I agree, schizophrenic, misguided, and authoritarian, I am as strong a Eurosceptic as every BJ reader is, however, I would like to know whether anybody has already pondered such developments, considering the Eurosceptics made significant strides in the last EU election. 

If Eurosceptics ruled...

Hopefully they would do better at "shrinking government" than G.W. Bush and the Republicans from 2000-2008.

@ KO

That is exactly why I said such a gamble would be extremely risky, we all know some people have been concealing themselves behind names to hide their true nature.


@ truepeers

It is called the European Union. It constitutes a union of existing states, and its composition does not follow distinctions along 'national' lines.  Whether "a common sense of nationality" can develop, will depend on whether a common civic culture can 'grow', or not.  However, that possible future common civic culture is not worth having, unless it will be a 'democratic' one, in the sense of separation of powers (between judiciary, legislature and executive), real power alternation at the  executive and legislative levels and, above all, freedom of political speech.  This remains to be seen, and the early signs are not promising given the loss of democratic legitimacy in several of the major constituant 'states' and given the prospect of Turkish membership.

Mr Belien has written a fascinating story about the career of the first EU 'President'. It is too bad that the latter will not explain to us his concept or vision of the "lesser evil". I, also, had the opportunity to meet him several times (in small group settings) when he was the Belgian federal Budget Minister, and he always struck me as very 'technocratic' and 'mild'. On a personal level for him, perhaps this is an example of the tortoise winning the race over many 'hares'.

United States of Europe?

Why do you call it the USE, Mr. Belien? Because it can't be called a a UNE? The USA works because the states share a common sense of nationality, more or less. But what is the basis of political unity in Europe other than wishful thinking and bureaucratic control? If one really believes that democracy requires a shared sense of national identity, then the only other forms of "unity" must be tyrannical and hence fraudulent. This President is not elected, of course.

A sad tale

Thanks for the inside poop. It is a discouraging story of mediocrity and betrayal. I would like to see the Flemings declare independence. Why didn't they do so a long time ago? Don't they care?

Of course, it is fair to ask: why do Americans tolerate confiscatory taxation; racial discrimination through quotas; destruction of states' rights; abortion on a mass scale; and the practical abolition of the death penalty? We have lost the old republican insistence on our hereditary rights.

Schizophrenic Europe

In discussing the growing prevalence of multiculturalism, political correctness and anti-capitalist sentiment in the West, we tend to conflate the bureaucrats in Brussels with those in London, Paris, Berlin, etc. 


However, this causes us to lose sight of the fact that the EU is a schizophrenic institution.  On the one hand, "Eurocrats" are working to transform the region into a full-blown supranational state which they control from positions that are internally appointed rather than democratically elected.  On the other, the leaders of the major EU countries see the EU as a way to further their own national and private interests, and therefore are pleased with the mediocrity of high-level Eurocrats.  Where is the promised cohesion or unity?  As if Brussels could ever force the Bundeswehr to remain in Afghanistan or to go on the offensive against the Taleban, even if it were so inclined.