Eastern Europe Sticks It to Brussels

EU flag in Brussels, Belgium
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Eastern Europe Sticks It to Brussels

Europe’s consensus politics paralyze the EU once again. And some are getting fed up with it.

Hungary and Poland vetoed a European Union-wide $887 billion covid-19 relief stimulus on November 16. They objected to a clause demanding that recipients of the stimulus adhere to the “rule of law.” Both countries originally agreed to the provisions of the stimulus in July, including the “rule of law” clause. However, Hungary and Poland claim that it is the EU that isn’t upholding its end of the bargain.

The prime minister of Slovenia, while not vetoing the stimulus, vocally supported Hungary’s and Poland’s stance.

Article 23 puts in place a way to discipline EU states found in violation of “the rule of law.” The problem is that Article 23 is vague; the European Council can deem just about anything it wants to be a violation of the rule of law. It gives a lot of power to the Council of EU leaders.

It could give the Council precedent to operate based on majority rulings. Currently, any decision the Council makes has to be unanimous.

This is making many East European leaders nervous. Many of them sponsor policies criticized by Brussels as being contrary to “European values.” They see this “rule of law” clause as a way for Brussels “eurocrats” to force their will on member states.

Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said, “The question is whether Poland … will be subject to political and institutionalized enslavement.” He called the clause “a pretext, but it is really an institutional, political enslavement, a radical limitation of sovereignty.”

“Some political groups … are openly threatening to use the instrument wrongly called ‘rule of law’ in order to discipline individual EU member states through a majority vote,” said Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa. Jansa is considered a strong ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Hungary has lately demonstrated a worrisome illiberal turn. Prime Minister Orbán has used the covid-19 crisis to suspend the Hungarian parliament indefinitely and vest all legislative power in him. This effectively maked him a dictator. The EU interprets Article 2 of the Treaty of Maastricht, the Union’s founding document, as “prohibiting the arbitrary exercise of executive power.” The powers have now ended, but it showed how much power Orban could grab in the right circumstances.

The EU has also been after Hungary for its refugee policy. Budapest has been denying entry for all refugees attempting to enter Hungary via Serbia and Ukraine (non-EU member-states). The EU declares this illegal. Yet Brussels does so while it giving tacit support to torturous pushbacks against migrants by Croatian border police—who use EU funding.

Brussels has also been giving Poland flak for its judicial reforms. Until recently, the Polish judicial system appointed judges itself independent of the executive and legislative governments. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), classified as nationalist and populist, has now made the Polish Parliament partially responsible for appointing judges, as well as lowered the retirement age for Supreme Court justices.

Warsaw claims that it’s trying to clean up a corrupt institution with legacies from the country’s Communist period. Brussels, however, is accusing Poland of breaking the rule of law through such reforms.

Poland feels like it is being singled out by the EU. Other countries like Germany already appoint judges in a similar manner. Nobody from Brussels is harassing Berlin for this. Many suspect that the EU’s motive for going after Poland is that it simply doesn’t like the conservative decisions the reformed Polish courts are making. A good example is the recent judgment of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal that abortion is against human rights, which made many members of the European Parliament livid.

While EU laws are supposed to have “unanimous” support, Brussels already cherry-picks who the laws apply to. If the stimulus is accepted with the “rule of law” clause, this would send Europe down this path even more.

Some say the EU should charge ahead with the budget despite what Budapest and Warsaw think.

“Enhanced cooperation is the only way forward for 25 heads of state, if Hungary and Poland continue to hold hostage their colleagues and blatantly act against the common interest,” said Belgian M.E.P. Guy Verhofstadt. “Enhanced cooperation” is a mechanism where nine or more member states can integrate more fully without the rest of the union. Verhofstadt is calling for the EU to march ahead in budget matters without Hungary’s and Poland’s backing. This would be a huge precedent-setter.

“Whosoever is against the principle of the rule of law is against Europe,” said European People’s Party (epp) head Donald Tusk. “I expect a clear position on this from all the epp parties. The opponents of our fundamental values should no longer be protected by anyone.”

Trying to bring consensus together among 27 countries with different cultures and histories is a complicated mess. The way the EU currently works proves this. When one or two countries can veto an emergency budget, you have a problem. And people like Donald Tusk and Guy Verhofstadt are beginning to see this.

For this problem to be fixed, the EU bureaucracy has to be pared down. The concerns of countries “not really with the program” have to be sidestepped somehow.

And your Bible prophesies that this is exactly the path Europe will take.

Revelation 17 prophesies of a beast power—an empire in biblical symbolism—that rises and falls throughout history. Verse 10 tells us that this power will rise one last time.

Verses 12-14 show that the last resurrection would be an international conglomeration of 10 separate kingdoms submitting under one overarching authority. The Trumpet has forecast that this last resurrection is forming now through the EU. But the EU currently has 27 member states, not 10.

This means you’ll see either more nations follow Britain’s lead and exit the Union, or a group of 10 stronger nations amass most of the power for themselves and steamroll past the objections of the weaker member-states. Or you’ll see both.

We’re beginning to see a small foretaste of this with Brussels’ latest squabbles with Hungary and Poland.

Keep watching the EU. It may seem like a benign, cumbersome organization. It may have an outwardly innocuous facade. Don’t be fooled. You can easily prove that the EU is quickly transforming into a world superpower. And it will shock the world once its transformation is complete. To learn more about what Revelation 17 is about and why it applies to a coming united Europe, read our free book The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy.