Europe finds itself at a major crossroads: continue on its present course and remain in America’s shadow, while flexing its diplomatic and economic muscles like a passive-aggressive giant—or take the lead role on the world stage and become a dominant superpower.
Many believe that, because it is mired in bureaucracy and is severely limited by its system of governance by committee, Europe is incapable of choosing the latter path.
Consider the numerous obstacles and challenges that the EU must face: dealing with Russia and its competing interests; the growing economic threat of a China-India trade alliance; the continual Europe-wide need for oil; the rising tide of secularism, as the Vatican repeatedly calls for Europe to return to its spiritual roots; a growing and restless European Muslim population that could one day become the majority; terrorism from Islamic extremists; deciding whether to grant Turkey, an Islamic country, EU membership—the list goes on.
Europe’s future will be determined by how it deals with these and other issues.
The European Union “excels” at establishing endless government regulations, in effect, micromanaging its sovereign member-states.
Consider the following example. Aland, an island of 26,000 people in the Baltic Sea, is an autonomous region of Finland. For centuries, the people of Aland have hunted migrating fowl, such as wild duck. When Finland joined the EU in 1995, about 70% of Aland voters voted “yes” in their own referendum, after being assured that their hunting rights would be preserved. Yet the European Court of Justice later declared most spring hunting as illegal.
Because their island is autonomous, but considered a part of Finland, the citizens of Aland are essentially sovereign co-rulers of Finland. Therefore, they have veto-power of any international treaty that the Finnish government wants to enter—including treaties of the European Union.
Tired of being outvoted and overruled by the EU time and again—losing the right to fish at sea with traditional nets, having their spring duck hunting virtually abolished, and the European Court of Justice’s attempt to abolish the local laws on consuming “snus” (a form of chewing tobacco that has been outlawed by the EU in every nation except Sweden)—the islanders are threatening to veto the European Commission’s attempts to revive the Constitution.
Despite taking Finland to court to quash Aland’s snus law, the Commission ruled that Finland has no power to change that law; only Aland has the power to control its internal laws covering health.
Think of it! Just a single European nation (or, in this case, an autonomous region within a nation) can bring EU initiatives to a screeching halt. With all members having a say in internal affairs, how can Europe hope to become a federal superstate?
The government of Iran claims that advancing its nuclear research program is vital to the needs of the nation’s booming population, which has more than doubled in 20 years. But Europe, along with the U.S., Israel and other nations, remains skeptical, believing that the Islamic republic is bent on becoming a nuclear power. Even Russia, China and India—Iran’s allies and trading partners—are wary of Tehran’s insistence on uranium fuel enrichment.
At first, Russia’s offer to use its own nuclear reactors to enrich Iran’s uranium was rejected, with Tehran postponing further negotiations; eventually, they reached an agreement. However, fearing possible economic or political sanctions, Iran’s deputy nuclear chief warned that the deal would be off if the International Atomic Energy Agency referred the nation to the UN. Despite these on again-off again negotiations, Moscow, like Beijing, prefers diplomacy rather than military options in dealing with Iran.
Acting on behalf of the EU, Britain, France and Germany (also called the EU3) negotiated with Iran to cease its fuel enrichment work. However, these efforts failed when talks were suspended.
In keeping pressure on Tehran, German Chancellor Angela Merkel still views diplomacy as a viable solution, but she refuses to rule out other options—thus keeping the threat of military action on the table. According to Der Spiegel, this position is threatening to fracture the chancellor’s coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, Germany’s two largest political parties. German conservatives generally believe that without the looming threat of military confrontation, Iran will never give up its nuclear ambitions. However, many members of the center-left Social Democratic Party do not support the use of force.
For now, both parties are nervously awaiting how this international situation will unfold. If the unresolved tensions between Iran and the Western nations come to a boil, Ms. Merkel could face a major internal political crisis.
Meanwhile, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hinted that his nation may be considering a withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Contributing to rising tensions and the West’s growing concern of future Iranian aggression, Mr. Ahmadinejad stated that Europeans are being “held hostage” by “Zionists,” and demanded an independent investigation to look into the “truth about the fairy tale of the Holocaust” (ibid.). Further, he asked that the West “remove what they created 60 years ago and if they do not listen to our recommendations, then the Palestinian nation and other nations will eventually do this for them.” Then he added, “Remove Israel before it is too late and save yourself from the fury of regional nations.”
The Iranian leader also said that it was time for the West to bow to Allah.
What will Europe do? What kind of decisions can a committee of European leaders—all harboring national and personal self-interests—unanimously agree to? As stated in Part One of this two-part series, no corporation, school system or church can successfully govern by committee. Someone must take the lead—someone must take full responsibility when things go wrong
To do away with bureaucratic confusion and institutional frictions, and to establish a stronger foreign policy presence, the EU Constitution introduced the creation of a future office: EU Minister for Foreign Affairs. This individual’s role would be to represent the EU’s foreign interests and positions—to allow the 25 member-states of Europe to speak with one voice and act jointly in international affairs.
The future EU foreign minister would also be vice-president of the European Commission, responsible for external relations—development issues, human rights, foreign and security policies, etc.—and chair the Foreign Affairs Council.
To assist in carrying out the functions of this office, the EU Constitutional Treaty calls for the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS), which would be an administrative body the foreign minister would preside over, and from which he would appoint EU ambassadors.
Issues have already arisen, such as working out and agreeing to the foreign minister’s powers and duties; deciding if he will have his own independent secretariat, or be part of the Council or the Commission; and determining whether he should be authorized to represent the EU in trade and development policy.
Suppose that this new office successfully allows Europe to carry out its foreign policy and interests speedily and effectively. Would EU leaders conclude that a similar office needs to be created—one that would handle Europe’s internal affairs?
The EU requires unanimity in deciding key issues. Yet, ever since expanding to its present size—25 nations, all desiring a say in how the government should operate—administration has become unwieldy.
For instance, EU members cannot agree as to how Europe should address the economy and high unemployment within member nations. Such division keeps the EU from effectively challenging America’s financial clout, or China’s increasing economic presence.
Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has offered a bold solution: the creation of an EU core. This “United States of Europe,” a name Mr. Verhofstadt has proposed, would function as a “club within a club” of the EU political machine. Only a small group of member-states bound closely together, he argues, would solve the current administrative logjam.
The model for Mr. Verhofstadt’s proposal already exists: The 12-nation single currency euro zone—Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.
“Twelve countries within the European Union have already handed control over their monetary policy to the European Central Bank. When EU finance ministers meet, the 12 ministers from the euro zone hold talks among themselves before they meet the 13 colleagues whose countries haven’t adopted the euro.
“In that pre-meeting, the most important decisions for the euro zone are made—in the club of the avant-garde. And it’s a model that could conceivable be transferred from finance policy to other areas—with the euro zone core leading the way” (“European Union’s Future: A Club Within a Club,” Der Spiegel).
Both Paris and Berlin have shown interest in this proposal.
With Europe weighed down by bureaucracy and regulations, and inefficiently governed by committee, dramatic changes in government must take place before the EU can surpass America’s global leadership.
Imagine this future scenario: The materialistic morals and values of secular Europe have left a spiritual hunger in the lives of millions, waiting to be satisfied. Conditions are ripe for a charismatic religious leader to fill this spiritual void. Through awesome miraculous powers—bleeding statues, signs in the sky?—this leader sparks a religious revival throughout the continent; Europe’s spiritual roots are re-awakened.
As was done for centuries in European history, this religious leader, backed by throngs of fervent believers, will use his new-found standing to influence government policy and civil laws. Through him, religion gains a voice in state affairs.
He then uses his clout to endorse a popular European statesman who shares his values and vision for Europe—perhaps a “rising star” whom many see as destined for a bright political future. (Could this man’s shrewdness, charm and deft diplomacy become evident with his successful tenure as the EU’s foreign minister?)
The religious leader uses his increasing authority to influence—even pressure—the heads of the “club within a club” to hand over governing powers and authority to his political counterpart. Europe is no longer ruled by committee, but by one man—one voice—one will and purpose.
Does this sound far-fetched? Is it even conceivable that secular Europe would zealously embrace religion and transform itself from democracy to one-man rule?
Before you answer, remember the world before 9/11: Who would have dreamed that a group of terrorists could hijack four U.S. planes, demolish the twin towers of the World Trade Center and destroy a portion of the Pentagon? Who would have imagined that the U.S. and its allies would wage a worldwide war on terrorism, invading Afghanistan and Iraq, and toppling the government of Saddam Hussein?
This may come as a surprise, but this hard-to-believe scenario was foretold long ago in an ancient book of historic records, poetic writings and religious text. It’s called the Bible. While it continues to be the world’s leading bestseller, the Bible is greatly misunderstood and sorely misinterpreted by hundreds of millions of readers. Even the overwhelming majority of Christians and their most highly educated religious leaders cannot comprehend its teachings.
For instance, very few know or understand that an estimated one-third of the Bible is prophecy, 90% of which pertains to our time—now—and to “the world to come” (Heb. 2:5; 6:5). It speaks of a future leader who, endorsed by a powerful religious leader, will receive government authority from ten heads of European nations (or groups of nations)—possibly a “club within the club”? (See Revelation 17:12-13.)
Europe’s rise to global preeminence will become a reality—and, to worldwide astonishment, the United Kingdom will not be a part of this!
As the European counterweight assumes its place as the world’s leading superpower, what will become of the United States and her staunch allies—Britain, Canada, Australia and other Western nations? The answer, thoroughly explained in our book America and Britain in Prophecy, will surprise you! So will information in our booklet How World Peace Will Come!