Care Package From Rome
Italy, one of the European Union’s largest and founding countries, now has an unrelenting Europhile at its helm. After Italy’s supreme court ruled on the much-disputed election results in April, Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission, took office as prime minister on May 17.
Narrow victory aside, he is widely expected to provide new impetus to EU integration and reform.
Prodi told the Sunday Times his dual priorities were to forge an alliance among the EU’s leading members and re-open discussions concerning the European Constitution (April 16).
Prodi’s first priority, integrating a core group of EU countries, would clearly foster the Union’s federalist goals. These elite would be “the countries most determined to push for a common European policy”—namely, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and probably Belgium and Luxembourg (ibid.).
For Europe to function successfully, 25 heads of state are far too many cooks in the kitchen. It must find a format with fewer decision makers. Prodi and other Europhiles, especially Germany’s conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, know this all too well.
For example, six interior ministers from Europe’s largest nations met in March in northern Germany at the same time their bosses were at a largely unproductive heads-of-state summit in Brussels, Belgium. Compare the two summits, and it’s not hard to see which format gets more results. While the larger meeting broke down in bickering, the six interior ministers agreed to coordinate their security services to deal with immigration and security problems, and took home a number of agreements to this effect. These ministers, from the Union’s six largest nations (Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the UK and Poland), represented 340 million of the 450 million European citizens that comprise the EU.
This intimate meeting indicates “there is plenty of room for cooperation—if they can get the forum right,” Stratfor asserted (emphasis mine throughout). “If the Europeans are going to have a transnational structure that succeeds in doing something other than holding very expensive, very counterproductive meetings, they will have to develop a format like this” (March 24).
Stratfor says the next likely steps will be the steady adoption of Group of Six agreements to the bulk of the other EU states—no matter what the smaller nations think.
Stratfor wasn’t alone in its analysis. Key EU thinkers have been calling for the fewer-cooks approach for some time. One thing the EU heads-of-state summit did produce was a resolution for the Union to take a hard look at its ability to accept more members. One reason behind this is cultural and religious—politicians know that EU citizens are leery about accepting a Muslim nation like Turkey. But another reason is that, within a few years, the number of heads at the table is set to exceed 30. This is only a recipe for more squabbling and stalemates.
These realizations were coming to the surface just weeks before Italy’s biggest Eurochamp became prime minister.
Prodi is sure to help push Europe’s largest states to work more closely together. In his interview with the Times, he outlined what he called his “more Europe” reforms—with France, Germany, Spain and Italy taking the lead in implementing them.
The Times reported, “In his manifesto Prodi called for more harmonization of economic policies with the eurozone given ‘a stronger political dimension,’ the immediate appointment of an EU foreign minister and the abolition of the right of national vetoes on foreign-policy decisions taken at EU summits.”
Prodi’s election reinforces an unmistakable trend: Europe is on the fast track to becoming a federal state. Even before Prodi’s announcement of his goals, Estonian member of the European Parliament and presidential candidate Toomas Hendrik told his local press that founding EU states were trying to convert the eurozone into a “core group.” He warned that those members would “provoke a deep rift in the Continent” by creating a “federal state within the Union” that would sideline other member states (European Information Service, April 19).
The tendency we now see in Europe—of a smaller number of key states taking EU decision-making into their own hands—may well be a precursor to the formation of the final configuration prophesied in the Bible. A prophecy in Daniel 2 shows that the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire—the last kingdom in a series of empires tracing back to Nebuchadnezzar—would be comprised of 10 nations, or 10 groups of nations.
Britain Left in Cold?
Prodi’s drive for a core Europe will make for a leaner, meaner political machine, meaning that other European nations will have to put up with what the “core” nations decide. Smaller nations will be sidelined.
What’s more, Euroskeptic nations like Britain will, before long, reach a crossroads. The Trumpet has predicted for years, based on biblical prophecy, that Britain will not be a part of the final configuration of a united Europe. Events are leading rapidly to this outcome.
For years, Britain has been the most Euroskeptic nation in the Union. A tide coming over Europe of late is a mutual feeling of skepticism toward Britain.
Prodi’s election doesn’t bode well for EU-British relations. He specifically omits Britain from the core group of nations he foresees leading the EU, telling the Times it is “difficult to include [Britain] among countries which are pushing for more integration. Britain has decided not to hold a referendum on Europe so it has not approved the European position. Evidently it believes in a policy which is more independent of the EU” (op. cit.).
On top of that, another Prodi foreign-policy platform is to remove Italian troops from Iraq—a move that will alienate Rome not only from Washington, but also from Washington’s chief ally, Britain.
Simplify the Constitution
Prodi’s second major priority, as he told the Times, is a “simplified constitution which focuses on the big principles. That means the first part of the constitution, the charter of fundamental rights and possibly a social protocol. But we have to remove all the technical, detailed aspects which scared people” (ibid.).
Prodi said he would like to see the constitution put to EU voters in a referendum in 2009 at the same time as European parliamentary elections.
Austria’s Der Standard reported that “we may finally see the beginning of a new phase of pragmatic, unspectacular but perhaps ultimately more successful and serious policy in Europe.”
The paper pointed to Merkel’s rise to power in Germany as further evidence of a trend in Europe: “The time of loud macho-statesmen who are not all that interested in Europe but all the more in their egos and/or national aspects or business interests could be coming to an end” (bbc News, April 19).
Europhiles Ecstatic Over Prodi
Indicating their confidence in his ability to further their cause, other Europhiles were elated with Prodi’s victory. “The results of this election go beyond Italy’s borders,” said Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. “Romano Prodi’s victory is also important for Europe, especially during this period needing a pro-European vision and direction. … I am convinced that Italy, steered by Prodi and his deep European experience, will once again contribute to Italy’s long EU tradition” (EUbusiness.com, April 11).
France’s Europe Minister Catherine Colonna told Prodi: “… I am convinced that you will play an essential role in the relaunch of Europe” (ibid.).
“Europe needs an Italy that does not waver. Italy and the EU’s interests coincide,” said EU Justice Minister Franco Frattini (ibid.).
With Prodi in charge, Italy will likely deeply establish its position in Europe.
Though biblical prophecy causes us to expect Germany to be the driving force in bringing Europe together in a final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire (“Assyria,” the ancient name for modern-day Germany, is mentioned throughout the Bible as playing a key part in end-time events), history tells us we cannot ignore Italy—the seat of the “holy” part of it. Thus, watch for Italy, under Prodi’s guidance, to aid Berlin in creating a more unified, streamlined and powerful Europe.
With reporting by Lisa Godeaux