Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Benelux Army?

This causes me some mixed feelings I will confess. A new law has just been signed into effect to allow for the greater cooperation and coordination of the military forces of the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. I have no hesitation at all about this and think it is a very good thing for everyone concerned. Always I have advocated a closer relationship between the three "low countries" which share so much common history between us. Always I have wished the Benelux group would be more active and that the countries would cooperate more to have a greater impact in world affairs. However, I have some trepidation about this news only because of the extra words of Defence Minister Pieter De Crem who said that this could open the way for the creation of a "Benelux Army".

That I do not like the sound of. Greater cooperation is good, greater coordination is good, closer collaboration is also good but uniting them all into one military as not a good idea at all I think. We are not all the same country and I think this would mean the loss of at least some independence and freedom of action for the country if it were to happen. Who would command the Benelux army? I would not want anyone but the King being commander-in-chief of Belgian armed forces. Certainly I think the Benelux countries should work together and help each other whenever possible but I do not want to have a shared army. Also it seems a strange thing to talk about when Belgium still has some unity problems of its own and don't we already have close cooperation through the European Union? Is this suggested Benelux army going to be the testing ground for the EU Army? Perhaps I am being too suspicious but it makes me worried to hear about the Benelux sharing a military one day. I wish Benelux were more significant, more active and closer but I want the Belgian army to stay Belgian and the others to stay their own as well.

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