Marine Le Pen has suggested that the French-speaking part of Belgium become part of France, pending a referendum of all Belgians. This follows last year’s vote in which a majority of voters in Flanders favored Flemish separatists. Le Pen stated that “if Belgian is going to split, if Flanders pronounces its independence, which seems more and more credible a possibility, the French republic would do well to welcome Wallonia into its heart.”
A related article, “End of Nationalism Dream Dying in Belgium” notes that “If even Belgium’s Dutch speaking Flemish and francophone Walloons cannot live together then how can Europe’s ‘Union’, a more recent and even more artificial construction, hope to bridge national differences?”
Indeed. The EU project was built on moral idealism of the left rather than on a realistic understanding of what motivates people. Attachment to ethnically similar people sharing a common language and culture is a bedrock part of human nature–hence the robustness of these differences no matter how much the left would like to engineer them away.
But realistic assessments are not at all in evidence in the article. For example:
“Belgium today is what Europe must be: a place where languages and cultures must live together. Europe will be Belgian or it will not be,” warned Geert Van Istendael, a Flemish writer and historian this weekend.
Beatrice Delvaux, the editor of the French language Le Soir newspaper, accused Flemish nationalists of using “emotions, lies, manipulations and excitement” to threaten both Belgium and the EU.
“That is what is at stake. If the Flemish nationalism pulls it off and shatters the country, it will also be one of the gravediggers of Europe.”
We can only hope.
As a French nationalist, Le Pen understands that joining Wallonia to France would have vast repercussions and likely spell the end of the EU. Indeed, it could well be the spark that ignites a rejuvenation of European national feelings related to immigration. If the Walloons and the Flemish cannot live together, how could anyone think that Europe could live with millions of unassimilable Muslim immigrants, not to mention Africans, etc.?