Not worth the paper it’s written on..

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern escaped to Lisbon today for the signing ceremony of the EU Reform Treaty, although the Republic of Ireland is still to hold a referendum before it’s ratified. The UK’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, preferred not to clear a previous appointment in his diary to attend.. a move which the Guardian Leader column portrays as an insult to the other European leaders, if not the electorate. But perhaps the most pointed comment came from Samizdata Perry de Havilland, as linked by the Professor, “Yes, it is true. I am going to go and sign the treaty for the European Constitution on behalf of Belgium. . . . If the people who were voted out of office in Belgium months ago can sign the treaty, then why not me too?”. Belgium.. 6 months without a government. And, from the Editor in Chief of the Flemish-Netherlands association, one final quote.

Such balances and compromises keep Belgium together. It is all rather complicated. It needs patchwork all the time. But we don’t smash each other’s head. No blood s shed in these tribal wars. That’s quite a lot. What is now going on then? The limits of the Belgian system – a monstrosity that works – appear to be reached today.

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  • Mark McGregor


    Any idea if the Belgians can ratify if they don’t have a Government?

  • Pete Baker

    No idea, Mark.

    But the Belgian King’s invitation to the out-going Prime Minister to form an interim government might have a bearing on that issue.

  • Mark McGregor


    Seems like even signing the Treaty was a tad dodgy. Though I doubt this situation can last until Jan 2009 when ratification is due.

  • Bob From Boston

    Miliband signs Britain away……
    In the words of a soon to be great man..
    ‘Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want that ’empire’, not excuses.’ Start lining up at the border sahibs….

  • Only Asking

    Miliband? It was Gordon Broon who signed – late.

  • Bob From Boston

    The SUN was the source..

    ARTICLE 18:

    The right to asylum shall be guaranteed with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the New York Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community.

    Oh, dear.

  • joeCanuck

    The longer the Belgian situation goes on without the country collapsing into chaos might call into question the importance of the roles of governments in toto, and the insatiable need to pass new laws.

  • Greenflag

    What is a Belgian ? Could be a Dutch speaking Fleming or French speaking Walloon or could even be a native German speaker from Limburg in the south east?

    Interestingly Belgium’s constitutional woes rings a deja vu bell . There are even some similarities with the Ireland situation . Prior to 1990’s the French speaking areas were the most prosperous part of Belgium . Walloonia was the traditional industrial heart of Belgium. But in recent decades the Flemings have caught up and passed out the Walloons because of investment in newer technologies. That both groups have managed to avoid outright conflict could be due to religious sensibilities both groups are predominantly nominally Catholic which in practice now means that 5% go to church on Sunday

    Another question can be asked i.e

    Why is Belgium . This artificial entity seems to be neither here nor there just like Northern Ireland . The Walloons could conceivably be just north eastern French while the Flemings are basically southern Dutchmen ?

  • Damian O’Loan

    Bob from Boston,

    Shame on you, using the Sun as a source for anything, especially in a debate on Europe.

    The UK has been dodging this issue for years by deciding which countries are ‘safe’ to return asylum seekers to – current examples of ‘safe’ countries include Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.

    Nothing will be changed in this respect by the signing of the treaty, as your post makes clear. This is mere scare-mongering on the part of the Sun, and it takes a fool not to see that.

  • RG Cuan

    Interesting Pete you read the Basque news site eitb. Didn’t think many knew about it here. It gives geat coverage of the situation in Euskal Herria, though the English can be funny sometimes.

  • Bob From Boston

    ‘This is mere scare-mongering on the part of the Sun, and it takes a fool not to see that.’

    One man’s truth is another man’s scare-mongering…

    You’ll still be lining up at the border..
    tsk, tsk..