The Economist magazine usually provides good reading, but in their latest blog entry about the Belgian crisis, they’ve got it completely wrong.
In the entry http://www.economist.com/blogs/certainideasofeurope/2007/11/belgium_the_model_european.cfm , they argue that the Belgian crisis is not anything to worry about for the EU, since Belgium is only an analogy of the EU, but the EU is not the same thing as Belgium.
They’ve completely missed the whole idea. It is not merely a question of Belgium being an analogy for EU in some sort of symbolic way, as The Economist itself puts it: “because Belgium is a federal state merging different language communities, and hosts lots of EU institutions, it is a model EU in miniature”.
The problem is of a completely different kind. As I have elaborated on in my blog entry https://newtonline.wordpress.com/2007/11/09/belgian-crisis-why-you-should-be-worried/ , it is far, far more than a question of mere symbolism. The problems with Belgium are parallelled point-by-point in the European Union as an institution.
Belgium merged different language communities without asking the people, and the current crisis is in much a question of many of these people wanting a different deal than their ruling elite offered them. That’s your first clue, which The Economist fails to recognise.
The lack of public legitimacy, the lack of public support, the lack of public interest in the state/union on an everyday basis, the democratic deficit in the establishing of the nation/union, the tension between the net payers and the net receivers, the sentiment of groups being marginalised, the endless corruption… all of these are at the heart of the Belgian crisis and all of these lie at the heart of the current EU as well.
This is way beyond Belgium being a miserable souvenir in a EU tourist shop… it is an example of what all the above issues can and will lead to on a European level as well, if they are not dealt with properly. Brushing things off the way The Economist does will only speed up the advent of the problems.