Belgium is the Most Globalized Country, but is it happy with it?
(Flickr picture Marc van der Chijs, source http://www.princeton.edu/~ina/infographics/starbucks.html, Creative Commons License)
Belgium is the most globalized country, so it seems on the basis of the ranking by the Swiss research institution KOF. Are Belgians happy with this?
KOF ranked 158 countries using 24 criteria measuring the economic globalization (trade en foreign investments in percentage of GDP, free circulation of capital, import tariffs), social globalization (international tourism, foreigners in percentage of the total population, internet users and the number of McDonald's restaurants and Ikeas) and political globalization (number of embassies, memberships of international organizations).
Belgium has a fifth place for economic globalization, a tenth place for social globalization and a third place for political globalization.
Belgium is followed by Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria. The least globalized countries are Myanmar, the former Belgian colony Congo and Burundi (formerly a Belgian "protected territory").
Are Belgians happy with this? It is the most globalized country, but political movements with nationalist themes do very well, especially in Flanders. The third place in political globalization is undoubtedly for a big part a consequence of Brussels' role as the capital of Europe and the presence of the NATO headquarters. At the same time, as explained in previous posts, Brussels is not very popular. It is a French speaking city embedded in the Flemish part of the country.
We could go on like this, explaining for instance that while once Belgium was a front-runner for Internet broadband, this is now less the case because of the dominant position of a few players. Some readers also wondered whether the fact that Belgium is the most globalized country does not explain that the country is the hardest hit by the banking crisis in Western Europe
Yet I think we should rejoice about this ranking. We should do more to accentuate this position, and as we said in previous posts, this would undoubtedly mean considering Brussels more as an opportunity than as a threat and introducing English as an official language.