PURSUANT TO OUR previous discussion of the dissolution of the confederal Hollandic archipelago in the Caribbean, the ever-interesting Flemish philosopher & university professor Matthias Storme suggests an interesting solution to the Belgian question. Opponents of Flemish secessionism frequently argue that should Flanders gain independence from Belgium, it would not automatically continue its membership in the European Union and would be forced to seek re-admission on its own. Professor Storme posits what he calls Solution «N», which has its basis in the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Article 355, Paragraph 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
As it currently stands, the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands (plural) details the relationship between four separate countries — Netherland (singular, in Dutch Nederland rather than Nederlanden), Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint-Maarten — in a single monarchy under the House of Oranje-Nassau. These four countries maintain autonomy in various areas of concern while maintaining a common nationality, foreign policy, and defence arrangement.
Prof. Storme suggests that were Flanders to join the Kingdom of the Netherlands as its fifth country (while specifically delegating its powers in the realm of external relations to the Kingdom) it would continue to be part of the European Union. This is because the TFEU states “The provisions of the Treaties shall apply to the European territories for whose external relations a Member State is responsible”.
Article 355, Paragraph 3 is also the reason why the British colony of Gibraltar is part of the European Union while, say, Bermuda is not. The Channel Islands, meanwhile, were specifically excluded from the European Union. There is a great deal of complication on the relations of “British Overseas Territories” (as colonies are now known) and British Crown Dependencies to the European Union.
Professor Storme notes:
The Kingdom [of the Netherlands] would have six million citizens more and increase its economic potential by 50%. It would come closer again to the bigger countries with whom it would like to be treated more equally. …
Moreover, such a Solution « N » would be interesting not only for Flanders, but also for Brussels. Brussels could accede to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a separate country (and not merely a separate region) without delegating more powers than those mentioned, without being “annexed” by Flanders and having its own say in the Kingdom. Such an accession would also not change its linguistic status.
Even for Wallonia, it would not be a bad idea to reflect about the possibility to join the Confederation, equally as a separate country.
Is this the ideal scenario for Flanders? Probably not in all respects, e.g. as it would not grant us a separate voice in the decision making procedures of the Union. That would indeed require a revision of current European treaties. But the solution would at least immunize us against the current “Francophone-Belgian” blackmailing.
An interesting speculation.