Fifty Years of European Union
It is now approaching 11 years since the Berlin Wall cracked open; 10 years since East and West Germany rejoined; 50 years since the post-war dream of European Union was launched. Yet, is this dream of a united Europe a child of the 20th century, or are its roots entrenched in a far earlier era of European history?
That Europe has been the cradle of all that comprises the modern culture of the world’s Western democracies is undeniable. Yet, for 1700 years, a recurring theme perpetuates itself throughout European history. It is a theme which we see building into present-day reality, reaching out from Europe to impact the whole world.
At the heart of this recurring theme of European history is a dream—a dream of a Europe united in diversity. Some say it has its beginnings in the time of Charlemagne, or, as the Germans prefer to call him, Karl the Great. It was Charlemagne who consummated the alliance between the Roman papacy and the growing kingdom of the Franks, uniting a vast territory in Europe extending from the Atlantic to the Danube, from the Netherlands to Provence, France. This we know as the second resurrection of what history terms the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne ruled between a.d. 768 and 814.
But Charlemagne’s mighty empire grew out of an earlier resurrection of this Roman Empire, ruled by Emperor Justinian. It was he who codified the Roman law which was to become the bastion of civil jurisprudence in continental Europe. It is that same Roman law which forms the basis of the judgments brought down by the European court in the modern-day European Union. Justinian ruled from a.d. 527 to 565.
Yet neither Justinian’s rule, nor Charlemagne’s empire, would have enjoyed anywhere near the degree of unity that they did had it not been for Emperor Constantine.
It was Constantine the Great, imperial ruler of the Roman Empire from a.d. 306 to 337, who infused the glue that was to repeatedly bind together the subsequent six resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire and even now works to cement that mixture of iron and miry clay emerging via the European Union into its seventh and final resurrection (see Dan. 2:43).
Through his enactment of the Edict of Milan in 313, Emperor Constantine commenced the imposition of what the world has since come to view as the Christian religion across the continent of Europe.
This was an overtly political act by the emperor. He needed to bind together into a singular empire the varying ethnic, cultural, linguistic and commercial attributes of the nationalities which he and his predecessors had conquered. That glue, which was to cement together the various revivals of the Holy Roman Empire ever since, Constantine found in religion. He simply took the various heretical forms of what historian Gibbon described as “a pure and humble religion,” and bound them together through a compromise document agreed upon by the leading Christian heretics of the time, termed “the Nicene Creed.” He foisted this off as the charter for a state-
Thus Constantine’s imposition on Roman Europe of universal Christianity, or Roman Catholicism as we know it today, was a shameless political act. It was simply calculated to infuse into the minds of a polyglot European peoples a singular stream of spiritual thought. It worked!
That this universal state religion spread from Rome to engulf most of western Europe over the ensuing almost 1700 years is a fact of history. Though schism rent this Catholic religion through the Eastern Orthodox split in 1054 and the Protestant Reformation of 1530, the core religion of all three major divisions of what we call “Christianity” had its genesis in a.d. 325, when Emperor Constantine convened the first general council of the church at Nicaea in Asia Minor. From that point, as Norman Davies declares in his book Europe—a History, the seed of a profound historic notion was sown: “that the Christian religion was compatible with politics…. After Constantine, Christianity and high politics went hand in hand.”
Ever since that time, this religion has been the glue binding together two prime movers in the continuing resurrections of the Holy Roman dream of European unity—high politics and business.
Europe’s rise over the past 50 years, now threatening to overtake the greatest of the world’s political economies, is nothing short of startling. It is particularly startling given that it lay largely in ashes and rubble following the cataclysm of two world wars in the past century and considering the complexities of its ethnic, linguistic, cultural and economic mix.
Readers of this magazine know that we have long held to the forecast of the rise of European power, even to predicting that the European Union’s political economy will overtake that of the U.S. We have predicted that the EU will become the major global player in politics, in business and commerce and, ultimately, in military and security matters.
From its earliest beginnings in 1951, in the form of the European Coal and Steel Community (ecsc), incorporating France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, post-war unifying Europe was destined to become a federated world power. As the German Professor Walter Hallstein once remarked, “Anyone who does not believe in miracles in European affairs is not a realist.”
What many do not realize, as they begin to worry about the increased political clout of a German-dominated European Union espousing the desire to mount its own defense and security force, is that what is now emerging in Europe is the outcome of what that old Europhile Franz Joseph Strauss once termed a “Grand Design.”
The foundation of this grand design was laid by social-democratic Catholic leaders half a century ago. EU founding fathers in fact did originally envisage exactly what the European Union is proving to be in the 21st century—a federation of European states, with a combined economy, under a single currency, with its own security and defense force, wielding power on the world scene in direct competition with, and not necessarily in tandem with, Britain and the U.S. Today’s EU is indeed emerging as the fulfillment of their dream.
Robert Schuman, a Catholic and head of the French foreign ministry at the time, led a team that secretly developed and unveiled the ambitious Schuman Plan for European Union in May 1950. This plan called for far-reaching initiatives in European economic, military and political institutions. It proposed a European army. However, fears of historic German aggression and dominance in European affairs meant that the economic path was chosen as the means to unifying Europe. The military and political elements were carefully shelved for a future time when memories of the horrors of Nazi aggression in the last experiment in European unity had faded. Up to the end of the 1980s, European union powered ahead economically.
With the unification of Germany in 1990, politics came to the fore, the most overt initiative being German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s ramrodding the launching of the single currency for Europe through to implementation by a majority of EU nations in 1992. The time had come, with memories of two world wars fading, for the EU to exercise its political power.
The Balkan wars of the 1990s gave the EU the opportunity to place defense and security higher on the agenda of the EU master plan. Kosovo was the turning point, with the Franco-German-dominated EU emerging from that pitiful war with a German general at the head of kfor, the Kosovo peacekeeping force, a German politician, Bodo Hombach, in charge of Balkan reconstruction, and a declared determination by EU leaders to develop their own security and defense arrangements separate from nato.
Currently, as the wily Eurocrats weave through the web of contradictory elements involved in developing the basic structures for a credible European defense force, they milk the U.S.-led nato for all it is worth to guarantee an umbrella of security from a reconstituting Russian empire and any other perceived exterior threat. The EU’s continued membership of nato is but a matter of expediency to give them time and space to build their own defense and security combine. The EU will eventually leave nato, forming its own alliance with Russia. It still treads warily as it quietly goes about planning the Euroforce, hiding behind big business as its catalyst for growth.
Overwhelmingly, it is European business and commerce which is still the driving force accelerating EU expansionism, and there appears to be no stopping it.
The Merchants of Europe
“…and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Rev. 18:3). This prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes!
“The ‘old’ continent is embracing the ‘new’ economy. The European Union is pulling out all the stops to catch and overtake the United States in the race for leadership of the global, knowledge-based, Internet-driven economy,” wrote Bruce Barnard in the May edition of Europe magazine. This is known as e-commerce. The Europeans have a significant edge over the rest of the world in mobile telephones with firms such as Nokia and Ericsson, in media with German media giant Bertelsmann, and in e-commerce support with sap, the giant business software group.
In a recent interview, the EU commissioner for e-commerce forecast that Europe will become the world leader in the next generation of global marketing—mobile commerce. “By 2003… many of today’s PC-based information and e-commerce services will move to mobile terminals. And when the Internet goes mobile this will be the real opportunity for Europe,” he said.
Yet, it is not just in high-tech marketing that Europe is set to take over the lion’s share of global business.
In March the Financial Review reported, “German business is on a second wave of mega-mergers, turning its corporate giants into high-profile global players.” The ’90s saw a rash of mergers and takeovers by huge German corporations that shook the business world.
Throughout the period of two hot world wars and a 40-year-long cold war, German industrialists have been in the box seat. They have largely driven the collective European economy in time of peace and time of war. In World War ii they employed slave labor and profited greatly. One such firm, I.G. Faben, produced the gas which slaughtered millions in the Nazi death camps. Many of the executives of these companies became card-carrying Nazis under Hitler’s regime. Most survived, largely without condemnation, to revive their businesses with U.S. funds via the Marshall Plan in the post-war years. Their corporate empires are respected household names: Volkswagen, Siemens, Krupp, Thyssen, I.G. Faben, Daimler-Benz, Mannesman.
Mainly Germanic, such massive enterprises are now reaching out globally to dominate their chosen markets. Penetration into the U.S., Asia, Africa and the Pacific has been bold and aggressive.
The DaimlerChrysler merger at the close of the 1990s now joins with giant Japanese industrialist Mitsubishi, moving on to form alliances in South Korea. The German telecommunications enterprise Telekom eyes the U.S. market, with Quest Communications in its sights. The top utility groups in Europe, Germany’s Viag AG and Veba AG, seek to merge into a European power giant, giving them hold over much of the EU’s power supply. Pressaug of Germany picks off travel companies to become a global leader in that market segment. Siemens AG and Mannesman AG merge to lead the world in the supply of high-tech electronics systems for the automotive industry. Deutsche Post AG penetrates the U.S. market by purchasing Air Express International Corp.
To cap off this corporate blitzkrieg, EU antitrust regulators recently approved plans for the daddy of them all: the giant defense merger binding DaimlerChrysler’s aerospace wing dasa to France’s Aerospatiale Matra and Spain’s Construcciones Aeronauticas. Hardly was the ink dry on this deal when the new conglomerate, tagged eads (European Aeronautic, Defense and Space Co.) signed an agreement with Finmeccanica to create a joint venture company to manufacture military and civil aircraft. Add all this to the DaimlerChrysler-Mitsubishi merger and you have a mega-giant ready to lay the infrastructure to supply the forthcoming Eurodefense capability.
All this powerful business clout of the EU is now being used strategically against Britain to try to force that country into the European mold, to the obvious detriment of its economy (see accompanying article by Rodney Atkinson, p. 9).
As the International Herald Tribune reported last month, “A number of multinational companies took aim Tuesday at Britain’s ambivalent attitude toward Europe and the euro, warning that their continued investment in Britain was dependent on a decision to join the single currency…. ‘Future inward investment will soon dry up unless the government commits us to the euro,’ said Sir Richard Needham, vice chairman of nec Europe, whose call was echoed by Mitsubishi, Toyota and Nestlé executives” (July 5).
Implying that the strength of Britain’s currency would negatively affect business, Nissan’s president chimed in and “warned last week that the company might produce a new small car on the Continent rather than at its English plant in Sunderland in order to stem losses caused by the high pound, while Honda said it would turn to the Continent to get more parts for its English plant in Swindon” (ibid.).
Controlling Global Finance
Yet it is not only the German-dominated corporate sphere that is engulfing the world’s markets. Of particular concern are the aggressive moves of the German banking and finance sector to control the global financial scene. In a rash of penetrations into the international banking and finance sector, German interests have, during the first half of this year, obtained majority stake in First Latvian Commercial Bank, positioned German-led Europe at the forefront of the e-commerce world via the recently announced Pan European Telecommerce Bank venture, backed by Mannesman and Deutsche Bank, and concluded a deal with the London Stock Exchange which will inevitably lead to Frankfurt taking over from London as Europe’s financial hub.
When it comes to business, the days of tiptoeing through the tulips by post-war Germany are over. As our editor-in-chief headlined some years ago in this magazine, “The German Bully Is Back!”
In all of this banking and business blitzkrieg, little thought is given by German political and business leaders to the sensitivities engendered by the three European wars which they masterminded in 1817, 1914 and 1939. “Anti-German feeling is still strong in Poland and the DB takeover was resented the more so. Fears are still acute that the country will fall prey to the economic influence of its giant neighbor” (Central Europe Online, Feb. 15).
As Dominic Hobson recently observed in Britain’s Spectator magazine, the big German banks are putting their trust in technology as the fastest route to global domination. The extent of their penetration into London’s financial hub is reflected in the ownership of city-based financial enterprises—Deutsche Bank owns Morgan Grenfell, Dresdner Bank has bought Kleinwort Benson, Commerzbank owns Jupiter, and Hypo Vereinsbank now controls Foreign and Colonial. It is but a small leap from ownership of these flagship financiers of British origin to the transfer and consolidation of their holdings into Europe’s financial center, Frankfurt, home not only to Deutsche Bank, but also to the European Central Bank, keeper of the euro.
Then there is the intriguing interest by Germany in gold.
All That Glitters
“The Bundesbank suddenly acquired massive gold reserves, just as the euro was launched in the first quarter of 1999. The gold amassed, both in terms of its physical size and of its value (national valuation basis) is more than enough with which unilaterally to introduce a gold-backed ‘new Deutsche mark’—in contrast to the U.S. dollar, which is not backed by gold” (Economic Intelligence Review, March 2000).
Commentators have been intrigued by the continuous slump in the value of the European Union’s collective currency, the euro, since its launch in January 1999. Suddenly two facts explaining the EU’s tolerance of this phenomenon leap into focus.
“The euro has given German manufacturing the weak currency it needs to counter high labor costs, and has created a single capital market across 11 countries, in which the German banks are ideally placed to thrive” (Spectator, June 17). German banks have been very clever at obtaining share cross-holdings in the firms to which they lend.
Add these observations to the following analysis by Christopher Story, and a worrying picture of European financial skullduggery leaps into view. “The Germans may have been preparing their greatest coup in history: the sudden, overnight substitution of a ‘new Deutsche mark’ backed by gold, for the regrettably ‘failed’ EU collective currency…. In reality, the Bundesbank’s acquisition of colossal gold reserves coincident with the launch of the euro (which policymakers were never supposed to notice), and the convenience of the biggest competitive devaluation in history, betray the probable truth—that this represents the realization of the pan-German plan for a European collective currency elaborated by the Nazis, and was cunningly postulated from the outset. In other words, the euro’s steep depreciation is ‘not coincidental’” (ibid.).
Back in the heady European summer of 1990, when Germanic euphoria was high at the point of unification of East and West Germany, British politician Nicholas Ridley told the Spectator that “European Monetary Union, then being discussed seriously for the first time, was ‘a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe…. You might just as well give it to Adolf Hitler, frankly…. I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather have the [bomb] shelters and the chance to fight back, than simply being taken over by…economics’” (June 17, 2000).
Try as you might, the emerging vision of the dynamic European Union cannot be divorced from its main driving force—Germany. That has nothing to do with any anti-German feeling, any Deutsche-phobia! It’s plain fact! Just as is the plain, unadulterated truth that what is emerging in Europe is the revival of history, the revival of a dream held from the time Constantine first imposed thorough control on Europe by commencing the enforcement of one single state-endorsed religion, binding together the power of the merchants with that of the politicians. The continual revival of that Eurodream, which historians call the Holy Roman Empire, has always had a dark and murky, mystical core. Read the history!
The Glue that Binds
Thus, as we move into the final half of this year of the united Europe’s jubilee, the reality of the dream of European leaders, from Charlemagne to Hitler, from Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman to Jacques Chirac and Romano Prodi, emerges. The Germans have done it again—but this time it has been done by Deutsche marks, not Panzer divisions—so far!
The German-led penetration of global markets continues apace. Euro-business thrives, as it has for 50 years. Meanwhile the political nature of this Eurobeast is yet to show its true form. It still needs an overt binding force to keep its fractious nation-states together.
“In Europe, the uncertainty over the shape of the European Union…is coming to an end, but it is being replaced by uncertainty over the future international role of this strange new power…. The important change, however, lies less in what the EU does internally than in how it behaves externally. In trade and money, the union is already a global player. Before too long, it will be one in terms of geopolitics as well…. The EU will have to develop a strategy to match its reach, and this strategy could well be very different from that of the United States” (Foreign Policy, Summer 2000; emphasis mine).
Right now the Eurocrats seem bogged down in reams of red tape, trying to figure how to absorb the next wave of aspirant member countries by 2003. The European bureaucracy is a complex, turgid web of intrigue, corrupt at its core. How can it manage to absorb, control, energize and unite such a conglomerate, this emerging European empire which stands on feet of mixed iron and miry clay? (Dan. 2:41-43).
The answer is in Constantine’s glue—controlling people’s minds by imposing a state religion. “…the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication…. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Rev. 17:1-2, 13).
As the strength of Pope John Paul ii wanes, waiting in the wings is a dynamic religious leader, a cardinal, who will some day fill John Paul’s shoes. Europe awaits this powerful religious head who will build upon the politico-religious foundation laid over the past 22 years of John Paul’s papacy. Such a leader is now needed to pour the glue which will cement business and high politics together for Europe’s final stand in the seventh resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire (Rev. 13:1-3).
The Trumpet is a news analysis and forecasting magazine. But we are a newsmagazine with a difference—our eye is on the future. We base our articles on the analysis of historical fact, contrasted with current reality, within the vision of prophetic inevitability.
Thus, in respect of the European Union, the historic evidence points to the outcome of this latest revival of the grand European dream—the same as that which has been its fate through its previous resurrections. All of them ended in conflict! The most immediate previous revival, during the fascist-Nazi period, ended in the greatest devastation that not only Europe, but the world has ever known.
The visionary illumination of Bible prophecy draws our focus out beyond today to reveal that this revival of the Holy Roman dream, underpinned by the merchants’ global penetration (Rev. 18:3, 23), will be the final attempt of the Holy Roman Empire to impose its domination over all nations of the world (Rev. 13:2, 6-7). Its end is foretold as being as inevitable and as sure as its final rise to brief power (Rev. 18:8-10).
The good news is that its end will finally herald the establishment of a pure form of government, delivering all of the deepest longings and desires of man for ultimate peace and security, which no man-made government can ever hope to provide. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever….” (Isa. 9:6-7).