The Null Device
After Czechoslovakia's amicable split in the 1990s, and talk of Scotland seeking independence from Britain, now there is talk in Belgium about splitting the country into French- and Dutch-speaking halves:
Another [barrier to separation] is the future of Brussels. The Belgian capital is a bilingual oasis in Flanders and, despite being the seat of the Flemish parliament, has a largely Francophone population. Its role as home to the EU and Nato has led some to suggest that it should become a kind of Brussels DC for Europe. Proposals unveiled this week to consolidate the European Commission estate with an ambitious new building programme have added to suspicions that the capital’s authorities are preparing for such an eventuality.
Talk of separation has ignited interest in France, where a columnist in the newspaper Le Figaro suggested that President Sarkozy should welcome Wallonia as a new province if wealthy Flanders broke away. France, however, has shown no interest in annexing a population of 4 million with 15 per cent unemployment.