Europe Moves Closer to Fulfilling Its Grand Design
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Europe Moves Closer to Fulfilling Its Grand Design
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 except Ireland, where it is legally required (and possibly Britain if the call for it there gains more traction).
The Financial Times describes the situation: "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 European Union'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" (Dec. 13, 2007).
Many critics see this treaty as a "stealth" step toward greater centralized control in Brussels, the headquarters of the EU, thus creating a loss of national sovereignty for member nations.
The treaty establishes a new European Union in the form of a supranational federal state, which is separate and superior to the member states. Just as the United States is to Indiana, or Germany is to Bavaria, so the EU is to its member nations. The EU would have authority to make agreements with other countries by which all member nations would be bound.
This would make the EU a full legal and corporate entity. The EU would exercise all the powers of a sovereign state (the primary exception, for now, being the ability to make member states go to war against their will). People living in the EU would technically become citizens of the EU, thus holding dual citizenship but owing ultimate allegiance 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 himself 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).
Germany and France gain more clout
The new treaty gives the larger states more voting power. Germany and France are two immediate winners. If these two nations get only 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 criterion of influence.
If Turkey were to gain admission to the EU, it would be the largest state by population. In light of this, the admission of Turkey will continue to see intense opposition.
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 the authority of the EU. This is a major increase of EU powers and a decrease of power to the separate national parliaments and legislatures.
It 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 treaty 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 on all member states. All in all, 68 new areas of lawmaking would then come under EU authority.
Still evolving are critical areas of foreign and economic policy, which are not fully developed under this treaty. And of course, the question of who speaks for the EU—who or what holds the ultimate leadership role—has yet to be determined.
Until these areas are fleshed out, along with a common military posture, what we see is a bureaucratic behemoth with nowhere 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.
Competing for leadership
Germany and France are currently sparring over their respective leadership roles within the EU. Since reunification, Germany has gained a level of self-confidence and is asserting what it feels is its natural leadership role on the continent. In Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany has found an unexpectedly feisty leader. Meanwhile, President Nicolas Sarkozy seeks to guard France's position as a leading power in Europe.
A recent Stratfor analysis put it this way: "With Germany again thinking for itself and France again looking out for French national interests in Europe rather than French superpower interests globally, there is a bit of a tug-of-war going on.
" Germany sees itself as Europe's natural leader by dint of population, location and economic heft. But for its part, 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 under Gaullism" (Stratfor Intelligence Brief, Dec. 7, 2007).
As this report went on to say, the conflict between the two countries is about "the future of Europe which ultimately boils down to who will call the shots." The report ended with this prediction: "The Europe of 2010 will likely have a lot more in common with the Europe of 1913 than with the Europe of 2000."
A historic time of transition
That last statement should make everyone sit up and take notice. Europe in 1913 was the center of a global economy rivaled only by what has been created in the past decade and more. Borders between states were open. Trade in goods, services and currencies flowed easily between Berlin, Paris and London.
All this changed with the outbreak of World War I. Empires collapsed and the whole world order was turned upside down. In the aftermath, Europe smoldered for two decades until it again erupted into another global war. The Cold War of the post–World War II era ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall (1989) and Soviet communism (1991).
Now we are in an even larger period of globalization, and Europe is again a major player. Where this recent treaty takes Europe remains to be seen.
Longtime readers of The Good News understand that we view this world from the perspective of Bible prophecy. The book of Revelation tells us to expect a dominating new superpower to arise from the region of Europe—an end-time revival of ancient Babylon and Rome. This "beast" power (Revelation 13 and 17; compare Daniel 7) will command a global system of political, economic and religious power.
We are in a transitional period of history. Global structures are shifting. The role of the English-speaking nations, led by Great Britain and America, is being challenged by the rising power centers of Europe and Asia. China and Russia are asserting themselves through their economic base and energy supplies.
Massive amounts of money from the Middle East are finding their way into global markets, helping to provide stability during the recent economic crisis. A recent article in the Financial Times detailed why we might be at an "important turning point for financial markets and the world economy" ("Why the Credit Squeeze Is a Turning Point for the World," Dec. 11, 2007).
As the years go by, the world economy will go up and down and up again. But however things play out, ultimately the revived Babylonian system in Europe will emerge as the world's leading marketplace with great affluence (Revelation 18). Accompanied by a time of relative and apparent peace, the world will be lulled into a sense of security.
The Bible describes it as spiritual drunkenness, a wealth-and power-induced sense of calm that will be exposed as built on a crumbling foundation when God begins to intervene in world affairs. The Day of the Lord will wipe away this satanic system and introduce the righteous Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15).
What kind of person are you?
This prophesied time of trouble is but a stepping-stone to the time of Jesus Christ's rule on earth and the establishment of His Kingdom of peace. That is what you need to keep in perspective. While we encourage you to keep one eye on world events, we also want you to focus intently on the greater prophecies of the world to come.
All of our words about Europe and a coming collapse of fortunes for the English-speaking nations are meant to awaken you to the dramatic times in which we live. While the world is going to transition into the end-time system described in the Bible as Babylon, the biggest transition lies beyond that. It is the transition to the Kingdom of God on earth with Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
That is the focus of our vision and the source of our true hope. It is meant to stir us to repentance and good works now in advance of the glorious appearing of the Lord. Hear the stirring words of Peter, words that put prophecy in its proper context:
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
"Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:10-13).
What manner of person should you be? The choice is yours. Keep your eyes on today's changing world, be sobered, and let it motivate you to make the changes needed to prepare for the coming Kingdom of God. This is what Christ expects from you. GN