Brussels as an independent mini-state?

If Belgium should fall apart, Brussels residents would prefer the option of becoming an independent mini-state rather than becoming a part of Wallonia. Adhering to Flanders is unthinkable in the heads of most Brussels inhabitants.

The Francophone dailies Le Soir and La Libre Belgique each conducted their own poll independently from each other, asking people living in Wallonia and Brussels about their preferences if Belgium should be torn apart by the lingering political discussions. 

In general, it can be concluded that the French-speaking Belgians are still strongly attached  to Belgium. A large majority does not want the country to fall apart, and a slim majority even wants to return to the previous Belgian model, when a unitary Belgium still had a lot of federal powers.

And what if Belgium should be split up after all? Only 8 percent of the Walloon residents would want Wallonia to become independent. Wallonia being incorporated by France is an option that is even less popular. Most Walloon respondents support the creation of a federation between Wallonia and Brussels as a counterpart of independent Flanders.

However, this is not the way Brussels residents are seeing the future. If Belgium should be split, they'd rather become an independent mini-state or a separate European district instead of joining Wallonia in a sort of federation. Brussels becoming a part of Flanders, is an idea that has almost no supporters.

Dreaming of the past

The poll involves a few thousand respondents. Taking into account the conclusion that still a lot of Francophone Belgians want more powers for the federal state (and a return to the "old Belgium" before powers were transferred to the regions), it is not hard to understand why the present political talks and the strong Flemish demands for more powers for the regions and communities are not being received with a smile in Wallonia and Brussels.

A first step in the dismantling of a unitary Belgium was taken in 1977 with the Egmont Pact, which eventually triggered the creation of three regions (Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia) and three language communities (a French-speaking, Dutch-speaking and German-speaking community).

Belgium thus became a federal state. In the present political negotiations, the idea is to give the regions a lot of financial powers and make them financially responsible for the policies they adopt.