228 days (on 28 January) and still no government: a record only bested by Iraq. As Le Monde reports, Belgium, which is "poised on the brink," is unable to resolve the differences between the Francophone and Flemish political parties or devise a reform of the federal state that will satisfy both communities.

Still no government in Brussels, and the silence is deafening in Europe. Little by little, Belgium is sinking into a political coma and its neighbours do not seem to be concerned. As Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungrecently pointed out, the lack of a government has not put a stop to day-to-day life in the country, which also made a success of its six-month EU presidency.

However, we should bear in mind that Belgium is not just a rank-and-file member of the European Union, but the country that provided the blueprint for most of Europe’s institutions. If it disappears, some serious questions will have to be asked. At a time when attacks on the euro have rocked the EU, Europe’s citizens could do without a further crisis.

Most people, including many Belgians, find it hard to fathom the political games that have been played out in the country since the general election in June of last year. And for populations in countries as far removed from Belgium as Finland, Romania and Portugal, the threat to the collective destiny of the Flemish and Walloon communities may seem like a minor issue. But this is not just a matter of the future of a country of 10 million people or the well-being of Europe’s institutions, the historical development of Europe has resulted in an increased interdependence between member states and their populations and — to paraphrase the famous description of chaos theory — a wing beat in Brussels may have serious consequences in Transylvania or Calabria.

The end of a state founded on the co-existence of several communities will undermine European solidarity, which has already been put to the test by the euro crisis, and have a negative impact on the level of trust between European leaders. At a time when European power is on the wane, the need to safeguard the political and economic tools that provide the basis for European cohesion has never been greater.

That is not to say that Europe should tell the Belgian people what to do, or that the European Union will be unsustainable in the event of a change to the political structure of Belgium, but just to point out that the future of the country should be a matter of concern for all of Europe’s citizens.