More than two years after voters in France and the Netherlands vetoed the proposed European Constitution leaders have signed a version of the same constitution with a different name and a few adjustments. It must still be ratified by each member nation but it is unlikely to be put to a popular vote in most nations but Britain and Ireland. Here is an excerpt from the Financial Times:
EU leaders reacted by dropping the concept of a "constitution" from their treaty but keeping as much of the document's detail as possible. Most of the key changes to the EU's institutions - the European Council, representing national governments, the European Commission and the European Parliament - remain in place in the new Lisbon treaty.
Like its forerunner, the treaty extends the use of qualified majority voting, notably in matters affecting justice and interior affairs. It keeps the new voting rules designed to smooth the EU decision-making process now that there are 27 member-states, up from 15 as in 2004. The Lisbon treaty is an immensely complicated document with (in its English version) 175 pages of treaty text, 86 pages of protocols, a 25-page annex and a 26-page final act containing 65 separate declarations.
Many critics of the this treaty see it as a "stealth" step toward greater centralized control in Brussels, the headquarters of the EU, and loss of national sovereignty. The treaty establishes a legally new European Union in the form of a supranational Federal State which is separate and superior to the member states. Just as the USA is to Indiana or Federal Germany is to Prussia, so the EU is to the member nations. The EU would have authority to make agreements with other States by which all member nations would be bound.
This would be done providing the EU with a full legal personality and corporate existence. All powers of a state would be exercised by the EU. People living in the EU technically become citizens of the EU thus holding dual citizenship but owing ultimate obedience to the EU.
How exactly this will develop in practical fact is yet to be seen. It is hard to imagine a Frenchman thinking of his or herself as anything other than French. The same for any other EU "citizen". This is no small matter in Europe and will be a significant reason why the Bible describes the end time Beast power as a mixture of "iron and clay" (Daniel 2:41)
The new treaty gives the larger states more voting power. Germany and France are two immediate winners. If these two nations get two other nations to vote with them they would have the power to control passage of any EU law. The new double majority voting system makes population the key criteria of influence. If Turkey were to gain admission to the EU it would be the largest state by population. Does anyone really think Turkey will be granted membership?
The EU will also have additional power to make laws binding on all member nations. Areas such as criminal and civil law, justice, immigration, and energy policy would fall under authority of the EU. It is a major increase of EU powers and a decrease of power to the separate national parliaments and legislatures. Which means the lives of each citizen of the EU will be managed by the EU power structure. Gradually all the functional aspects of everyday life, the infrastructure that makes a town, a city or a state work, will be controlled by EU policy and those who make policy.
Under this treat the EU and its EU Court of Justice will have the final power to decide issues of human and civil rights in all areas of EU law. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights would become binding upon all member states. All in all, 68 new areas of law making now come under EU authority.
Still evolving are critical areas of foreign and economic policy. They are not fully developed under this treaty. And of course the question of who speaks for the EU, who or what is the ultimate leadership role, has yet to be developed. Until these areas are fleshed out, along with a common military posture you have a bureaucratic behemoth with no where to go and no one to lead it. That will come later as Revelation 13 shows in the form of political and religious leaders who give voice and authority to a system destined to influence the entire world.
Germany and France are currently sparring over their respective leadership roles within the EU. Germany is asserting itself. It sees itself as the natural leader in Europe by virtue of its population, location and economic heft. France is no more likely to concede the "natural" leadership of Germany under traditional power politics than it was to concede American leadership of the free world when Charles DeGaulle was alive.
The two are tussling over matters of currency, influence and the constitution. In short, their posturing is over who will lead Europe, and this is the centuries old question. In some ways Europe is beginning to look more like 1913 rather than 2007. And that should make everyone sit up and take notice. I'll talk more of this in my next post.