THE POLITICAL PAGE

July and August 2007

Europe – where is it going now?

INFORMATION

The Days before Brussels

‘The operation succeeded but the patient died', was the headline of an article in the Rheinische Merkur after the Council Meeting of the Heads of States and Governments on 21 st - 23rd June 2007 in Brussels. This however, was not true because the patient ‘Europe' was not dead after the Council Meeting, but started to move again after lying in a coma because of the ‘No' vote of France and The Netherlands in May/June 2005. This was done on purpose: one year of adjournment for further thought – became two years, because the ‘doctors' did not know how to continue, and the risk of an exitus (death) for the patient was most likely.

It is to the merit of the German Council President, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany that the Brussels operation on the patient ‘Europe' succeeded, as it went through its hardest crisis since its creation and that this did not lead to its ‘death'. And just as it is with every medical operation, there was a whole team helping the surgeon: first Nicolas Sarkozy of France; then Tony Blair of Britain, also Vladas Adamkus of Lithuania; and of course Jean-Claude Junker of Luxembourg - Europe's Head of Government who has been in service the longest and is a thoroughly convinced pro-European.

This summit – and many things depended on it – was prepared in detail: two negotiators from each country were assigned to the task and had the procuration for their country; then Angela Merkel sent a copy of the planned program to each colleague, and a questionnaire regarding which parts of the old contract were to be kept and which changes were desired. The results were handed out to everybody, in order to see whether the desires for change were supported by others as well, or whether they were solitary. Then a row of talks between the Council President and each colleague took place; i.e. a phase was started to search for solution compromises. Sarkozy, France's Head of State was the first to begin this. In between all this, there was a skilfully placed trial run of the foundation agreement regarding a common path the 50 th anniversary of the ‘Treaties of Rome' on 25 th March in Berlin. The preliminary work for the consensus paper of the ‘Berlin Declaration' was already a good preparation for everybody regarding the Brussels Summit in June.

For his own country's sake, Sarkozy of France did not want the new treaty to neglect the social component in the market economy, i.e. he did not want the wording ‘to strive for free and unadulterated competition', one specific target of the European Union, to be deleted.

Balkenende of Holland demanded the strengthening of the exertion of influence of national parliaments over the authority of European Institutions.

Blair, who abdicated a few days after the summit, demanded different and special provision arrangements for Great Britain. F or example, that the basic rights Charter was not to be included in the new treaty, and if this would have a binding effect due to a legal cross-reference that it shouldn't apply to Britain. He was also against expanding the EU responsibility in foreign and home policy, and therefore also against the planned office of ‘European Foreign Secretary'.

The objection from Poland was the most difficult one.

The Treaty of Nice, and the Polish objection.

At the Summit in December 2000 in Nice, the Heads of States decided on a reform of the EU, in order to maintain its ability to take action because it faced the necessary expansion in 2004 from 15 to 25 states. What voting powers should the individual states have, was one question? They started to fight so badly that Chirac was not able to present the concluding document the next morning. The French Council President (who anyhow did not think too much of the eastward enlargement) presented a proposal for the distribution of votes in which Spain with the same population figure should receive a larger voting power than Poland. Even though Poland wasn't even a member at that time, Prime Minister Buzek immediately wrote a letter of protest which was taken into consideration due to the premise that Eastern Europe was not to feel disadvantaged. Result: Germany (82.4 million.) with a population number twice as much as Poland received 29 votes, Spain (43.8) and Poland (38.2) received 27 votes - just as many as England, France and Italy.

This wasn't satisfactory. Thus they agreed one year later at the Summit in Laeken to establish a convention which should present a peace treaty which was euphorically called a ‘Constitution' respectively, ‘Draft'.

The convention presented this draft on 10th July 2003.

This draft now contains a completely different and a more just voting power according to population figures.

Thus Germany receives 16.72%, England 12.76%, France 12.5%, and Spain 8.9%, Poland 7.74%.

In almost all cases decisions have to made through a ‘double majority'. In future, i.e. 55% of the member states which however have to represent 65% of the population from ‘the majority' in a ballot. The influence of all states especially of Spain and Poland was thus lowered considerably – this former arrangement was the cause of the break-down of the Summit on 13 th December 2003 when the draft was supposed to be concluded in Brussels, since these two nations had stacked the figures highly with their veto!

The government in Spain changed in spring 2004, and Poland finally was left alone in its decision, but also signed the draft in October 2004 after a government change.

Then the ratification process began, i.e. all the 25 people groups of the EU had to agree to the draft either by parliamentary decision or by referendum; and a single 'no' vote, would have terminated the process. 18 nations agreed on 29th May, and again on 1st February 2005; but France and Holland both said a clear ‘no' to the draft in a referendum. Thus the 'Constitution' was unsuccessful, and the euphoria of the EU politicians sank to its lowest level, this was a great shock.

After one and a half years, the whole of Europe expected the Council Presidency to lead Europe out of this dead end somehow. The idea of having minimum changes was out of the question since France and Holland couldn't present the same draft to its citizens that they had rejected beforehand; thus further changes needed to be initiated. They decided to no longer strive for a ‘Constitution' since only a peoples group can establish a constitution, and the EU wasn't a peoples group, it only had many people from many nations; thus the idea of a Europe as a kind of Federal State was abandoned.

They no longer talked about the ‘Constitution' but about a treaty in which the substance regarding the EU Institutions was to be maintained. Therefore, they only talked about a ‘Foundation Agreement' or a ‘Reformation Agreement'. Of course, the ‘double majority' needed to be taken over the 1:1 ratio, as a core piece of fertile cooperation between the 27 states for the future.

This was where Poland started its opposition. “Nice, or death!” Repeated trips to Warsaw before the conference, and six talks between Angela Merkel and President Lech Kaczynski – the Summit was just about certain to fail Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the brother of the president delivered a speech on the radio in the evening in which he said that because of Germany's guilt, Poland needed to have a higher voting power since the population figure would have been a third higher if millions of Polish people had not been killed by the Nazis; politicians in Brussels were shocked. Today's Europe is the answer to Nazi-terrorism, and Germany has already proved to be the core piece of a new Europe for quite a few decades.

Angela Merkel became fed-up with this; she clearly stated that the reformation agreement should still be implemented, even without Poland. There were some hectic hours during the night of 22nd June - Sarkozy called Warsaw, Blair got involved in the talks, at the end even Adamkus tried to mediate. Shortly before midnight, Poland finally made a concession but only under the condition that the new treaty would not be implemented in 2009 but in 2020. The answer was “No”; but they agreed to implement the treaty in 2014 and allow 3 years for emergencies, not more! Thus Angela Merkel was able to announce the result in the morning of 23rd June 2007; this was the break-through in the agreement.

Excursus:

The image that Poland has regarding Germany is completely different than that of all the other Eastern European countries. In Poland the government has an attitude of rejection towards Germany, but the majority of the people there are Germany-friendly. The mood of the people can however change quickly when minor irritations appear, such as the demands of the Prussian Treuhand Agency, or the Russian gas pipe via Poland. Kaczynski's veto also was a nationalistic veto against a new ‘German Hegemony' in Europe.

The Results

" Angela Merkel has led Europe out of a crisis; she deserves appreciation and thanks“(J.-C.Junker). She has given back to Europe the ability to move again.

  1. The result is a ‘ Reformation Agreement'; an agreement like many others before, but of special importance. By deleting the word ‘Constitution', they also withdrew the idea of a super state, which triggered Holland's NO vote. This realignment is underlined by the renunciation of the explicit mention of a flag and anthem for the European Union (Britain's initiative). This realignment of the euphoric perspective of EU Politicians became obvious because of the enforced role of national parliaments in their control over the maintenance of the subsidiarity principle of the EU, and through its possibility to complain against the EU, if necessary. The new agreement therefore contains a clearer order of authority and clearer criteria for the definition of the Union's areas of control within which it has its authority.
  2. Nevertheless, they identified that the EU should receive the status of a uniform legal status . As such it is able to act independently and be legally binding on an international level.
  3. Although the Basic Rights Charter will not be included in the agreement, it will still offer a legally binding foundation for the rights of its citizens – except for Great Britain (on Blair's demand).
  4. The ‘ double majority' will apply for votes in 2014 in the Council of Ministers and it will be expanded to a further 50 areas. The right to veto will be limited to only a few cases, thus the European Union will become more democratic and more flexible. Nevertheless, four states will still be able to form a blocking minority.
    On the other hand, 9 states can decide for more Europe without being hindered by the others (see the Euro-Zone, for example).
  5. A strengthening of the European Parliament through the stipulation of common decision as a rule, and expansion of authority in the shaping of the EU budget, and the right to have a say at the election of the President of the Commission has been achieved .
  6. The office of the President of the European Council (Summit) should be created; this will call into place and lead the Council for a minimum of 2.5 years, and a maximum of 5 years.
  7. A common foreign and defence policy should be developed. Therefore, a ‘ Higher Representative of the EU' (a ‘Foreign Secretary') should be called into being with its own diplomatic office; at the same time this position would entail being Vice-President of the Commission.
  8. A covering social hardship clause forces the Commission to examine whether each legislative initiative is reconcilable with a welfare state. Such a clause has been missing until now (France's initiative).

All in all, we have to admit that these results show remarkable progress . When compared to the situation caused by the veto-threat made by some members in the past.

The reference to God

What became obvious during the approach to the 'Berlin Declaration' was that even in the frame of a new revised agreement, there would be no space for the mention of God, not even for the record of Jewish-Christian heritage – a historical fact. Resistance against this was and is clearly very high, even when assertive people like Angela Merkel and Hans-Gert Pöttering in their positions as Council President, and respectively as President of the European Parliament were unable to include a reference to God.

Thus the previous wording of legal text is also to be included in the new agreement:

Reaching from our cultural, religious and humanistic European heritage, which was the foundation for the development of invulnerable and unalienable human rights. These are freedom, democracy, equality and constitutional legacy, now considered as universal values.

HOW TO CONTINUE?

The present paper is not the final treaty. The text of this mandate simply stipulates the contents which now have to be converted by jurists and representatives of 27 countries into a perfect treaty text. Everybody is happy that Angela Merkel in her ‘risk awareness' leadership style has succeeded to excel expectations by far, when people expected that up to this point she would only be able to produce a timetable for the next course of action.

The next Council President - the Portuguese Josè Socrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa (51), abbrev. Josè Socrates - is the happiest one; he is the head of the left-wing socialist party in Portugal. (Two other Portuguese people will be leading Europe in the next period; alongside him there will also be the Council President Josè Barroso, President of the Commission.)

As a skilled superintendent of banks he is known for his thorough planning with a good sense for detail.

Socrates wants to speed up the treaty process. On 23rd-24th July he wants to open up the Government Conference to the 27 countries, and to have formulated a draft for the foundation treaty by then; then the work teams will be able to start on details. On 8th September the finished text will be presented at the meeting of foreign secretaries in Viana do Castelo for decision making. Socrates wants to present the finished treaty to the European Council, Heads of States, and Heads of Governments by 18 th -19 th October in Lisbon. The text will enter history and be known as the ‘Lisbon Treaty'. This will be good for the smaller EU States because Socrates has already mentioned that one of his targets is to “defeat the pessimism" in his country which is marked by a melancholic attitude. In 2008 the treaty will need to be ratified in all the 27 countries in order to make a new foundation available for the elections in 2009.

From the point of view of foreign policy, it is an advantage for Portugal to have such a good relationship with the USA. Within the EU, Socrates is one of the strongest supporters of Turkey's membership in the Union; regarding the Turkey question, he only wants to talk to Sarkozy, the strongest opponent of Turkey's membership. After finishing the treaty he said, “I am not the kind of man to increase tensions“.

Socrates as a Portuguese also has his eye on the African continent. In December he wants to hold an EU Partner Conference with more than 50 African countries; it will be a special emphasis of the Portuguese Council Presidency.

BACKGROUND

  1. Tendencies towards a ‘Super State' which were felt in the Constitution Treaty – whether justified or unjustified – were eliminated during the Reform Treaty. But it would be wrong to assume that the process of European integration was abandoned, the opposite is true.
  2. The target of integration became clearer. A closer cooperation and a better functioning institution are now necessary but are no substitute for a nation state . These are two pole of one ellipse; these two poles were already stipulated clearly in the constitution treaty. However, because of the general euphoria and because of certain legal paragraphs, the polarised position of one state can have a voice for many states of the EU, this was explicitly underlined and considered in the text (ref: flag and anthem). “I do not share these fears but I am guilty of respecting them”, said Angela Merkel addressing the fears of citizens regarding an EU Super state.
  3. It is to the credit of the opposition: Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and France, that this other end of the spectrum regarding national states and the meaning of this on the whole is being re-emphasised again in the EU. “Everybody is aware that nations are installed permanently: they are not a temporary arrangement of history“, said Jean-Claude Junker, a convinced pro-European.
    But it also has to be clear that every society installment among us implies the renunciation of individuals regarding certain personal rights for the benefit of the community at large. Whoever refuses to transfer their freedom of community is not able to live in community, and therefore should not join the community. This was the situation in Poland's case, which was not prepared to transfer rights and to toe the line in its allocated place according to the rules of the community. It was a prototype case, through which foundational elements concerning the future became clear.
    Whoever complained that the objectives of the EU still weren't clear, and that the opposite was re-pastet again has not understood the bipolar being of this historical and unique establishment, the EU.
    As long as the EU exists there will always be this tension between central tendencies (‘more pro-Europe control') and national state interest (‘this country was here first'). This is good, because every tendency towards ones own behalf leads towards a dead end!
    Any of the European politicians who have both understood and applied this, will lead a good EU policy - Europe's policy is that we have already learned to consider the point of view of the other. In Angela Merkel's Inaugural Speech before the European Parliament (17.01.07), she said: “Tolerance is Europe's soul” meaning that this deep taking-care-of-the-other and respect for each other is Europe's trademark. This was impressingly seen once again during the Brussels Summit in June 2007.
  4. Through the Reform Treaty, Europe will become more democratic and transparent. The right to veto makes the Community subject to blackmail. What was considered to be a sign of trust between the bigger for the benefit of the smaller among the first six states, the veto – especially after the British who were sceptical of the EU joined the EU - turned out to be more and more of a thumbscrew in order to gain special rights until the next summit. This possibility of a special regulation for this or that state also bears the dangers of a ‘Europe à la carte'.
    The majority decision with a double majority has an objective basis, finally.
    Even the strengthening of the rights of the European Parliament has become more democratically just, in addition to the objection possibility of the national parliaments.
  5. The instalment of a Council Presidency for 2.5 up to 5 years instead of a chairperson changing every six months was ambivalent. The chairperson's area of influence is greater now, larger than that of the presidents who were elected for only a few months; they already have proven the possibility to exert greater influence – as we have seen in Angela Merkel.
    Therefore the questions now are: Who will be the next person? What is important to them? Which emphases are really important to them? Are they really able to handle the bipolar tensions of the EU establishment and redesign them positively on both sides? What is their position on the general ideological vacuum of the EU with its effect on many laws?
  6. The same thing applies – if not even more – to the ‘highest-representative for the EU', the ‘Foreign Secretary' (who is not allowed to be called as such). What is their position towards Israel? What is their position in the Mid-East Conflict, e.g. regarding Hamas and Hisbollah? What is their point of view on the Turkey question?
    These bear enormous spiritual risks for the future political course of Europe.
  7. The conflict with Germany which escalated because of the Kaczynski brother was resolved in a diplomatic manner by Germany. It also showed that the perception of Germany in the East is completely different from that in the West. The fact that the German government rejects the Prussian Treuhand Agency remains unnoticed: as soon as the Baltic Sea Pipeline project via Poland is a main focus again, it will be forgotten that Germany was the state that intervened the last time, and that Germany made a special way for Poland to join the EU .
    The decision of the President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus, who used the veto instead of the majority decision to gain popularity with Czech citizens regarding EU Governors, was clearly marked by 40 years of Communism . For him ‘freedom' is only a criterion, and not the giving up of national liberties on behalf of the community.
    There are voices saying that the 15 states of the EU should have done its homework before the integration of the 10 new members in May 2004, i. e. they should have finished the conversion of the Union before May 2004 because of the different mindsets found among the new Eastern States.
    The result wouldn't have been very different, because the Constitution did not fail because of Eastern-European States, but because of Western states such as France and Holland. But the process could have been made much faster.
  8. Europe is a continent of various voices – and it will remain as such even though the impression of this variety is being reduced by both a firm Council President, and another ‘High Representative'. Nevertheless, politicians need to orientate themselves towards the guidelines of the nation states, especially when every country wants to dictate its own foreign policy .
    In times of globalisation, with the USA, China and India setting the pace for the future, this will mean economic disadvantage since votes are always necessary before action .
    Also a closer merger, i. e. abandonment of previous national independence when it comes to global problems such as fighting terrorism, climate protection or of energy supply.
    The treaty is also an attempt to equip Europe for the challenges of the coming decades.

PRAYER

1. Spiritual Advice

Several million Christians, in nearly all of the European countries have in vain voiced their opinion about ‘the reference to God' in the legislation of 2003/2004. Thousands of letters and messages were sent to heads of Government and Ministers, even the Pope intervened very strongly - all in vain!

Then there was the crash in 2005.

A new attempt was then made with a new Council President; whose target was to anchor at least the “Jewish-Christian Heritage of Europe” in the Constitution; it failed, even with the support of the Presidents of Parliament. Angela Merkel only allowed herself to mention a small but boldly spoken remark before the anniversary meeting on 25 th March. This time, the political breakthrough was somewhat successful; the foundation agreement appears with the known formula ‘religious'.

What were our experiences in the past 5 years? How can we understand this spiritually and where can we file this?

The following is my personal interpretation.

I believe God gave us an increasing European unity; it started and was built upon the foundation of reconciliation, and the solidarity of the ‘strong for the weak'.

In the eyes of many people, Germany became the motor for the European unity process. Germany, the country with the largest population figure in the heart of the continent and the strongest economy, also became the largest investor (‘net payer') for Europe's unity. And then a miracle happened, the Iron Curtain came down and once again Germany had a central role. Germany became the lawyer for liberated European people, and for their fast integration into a western caring society, the European Union. This happened on 1st May 2004.

It was a glittering celebration, doubtless a historic moment. Europe's politicians were drunk with joy and surpassed each other with new vision for the future. Romania and Bulgaria were the next ones to join.

Turkey may well follow, and maybe even the North-African Maghreb States. Why not?

With this expansion, Europeans became aware that they didn't want to remain merely an economy market but also a community of values. A commission was established which worked out the ‘Charter of Fundamental Rights' – but this was not enough: thus they established a convention which had to work out an entire ‘Constitution'.

With the Charter, just as with the Constitution it became obvious that the there was no place for the God of the Bible, not even for the word ‘christian', instead the word ‘religious'.

A ‘tower' was to be built; for this construction they did not need the ‘God from above', there was no need for God -fearing values, not even technical ones. The Freemasons boasted about their victory later.

The following catastrophe can now only be seen by spiritual people as one of God's actions. The work they boasted about broke-down before time, and in an unexpected place. The work of their high-handed unity which guaranteed the mention of their fame for the generations to come collapsed like a house of cards.

In addition, the great actors slowly disappeared: Schröder, Chirac, Blair, Giscard d'Estaing, and Fischer.

Discouragement and disheartedness grabbed hold of our politicians, and they therefore prescribed themselves a year of silence; it was not clear whether they could continue with Europe or not. The Lord humbled the proud and pushed them off their thrones.

But God did not want to destroy his work in Europe, but only to smash the godless pride of its politicians. Everybody saw this, and Europe was disgraced in front of the whole world.

But the God who is merciful also had mercy on Europe. Again he used Germany to crank the engine. His tool was a woman who everybody thought was without self-confidence, a humble woman with a name which actually means ‘angel' meaning ‘messenger' (angelus). She is surrounded by many Christians; in Germany she is surrounded by a large number of people who pray for her, who bring her ministry before God.

God also listened to the testimony she gave to the world, the testimony she gave about HIM and He obviously honoured her – again in front of all the great politicians in Europe – with an unexpected and successful result.

In parallel with the renewed rejection regarding the reference to God, it also became clear in talks that there would no longer be a Constitution, only a normal agreement. Thus the former framework was overturned, and with this came new images with regard to the content of a wonderful overall picture of the European Union.

Back on earth there was joy because of saving this inward reform.

God broke man's pride, but confirmed the existence of the EU. At the same time there was a course correction regarding ‘citizen-friendliness' and a new emphasis was put on democratic transparency and individual nations.

The missing reference to God or the Christian heritage was painful but lost its importance due to the loss of meaning of the document. Spiritually this remains an open gap, which requires prayer by intercession warriors for Europe. A God-less Europe is dangerous with regard to ethical decisions (stem cell research, euthanasia, and similar things) and religious groups (eg. Islam).

2. European Union of Prayer

Therefore, the forming of a committed group of prayer warriors from all of the European nations last autumn was from the Lord. They come together two times a year in the country where the Council Presidency takes place in order to pray. Next time we will come together to pray from the 8th-15 th September in Lisbon.

3. Prayer requests

Thanks for God's wonderful and discernible leading of both judgement and grace.

Thanks to God for listening to his prayer warriors.

Thanks for the European Union of the past, and for that which God wants to do with it now.

Repentance on behalf of all godless things in our country and in Europe (secularism, laicism, humanism and the belief in incorrect scientific research).

Intercession for the process of formulating the foundation agreement in detail. Intercession for the maintenance of bipolar tension without which the European Union would have lost its equilibrium.

Blessings for those responsible for changes, especially José Sòcrates, the PM. Blessings upon the Polish people and its government where there is still deep resentment.

Blessings upon all of God's children in the EU Administration.

Proclamation of Jesus' power over Europe. He has placed the dragon under our feet. His Kingdom will come in glory.

Ortwin Schweitzer

Sources:

Der Fischer Weltalmanach 2007; Vertrag über eine Verfassung für Europa, 2005; O. Schweitzer, Deutschland – meine Liebe, 2003; Antrag der Fraktion der CDU/CSU und SPD vom 13.6.2007 Drucksache 16/5601.

F.A.Z. vom 20.1./18.5./20.+21.+22.+23+25.+28.+29.6.2007; 2.,3.,11.7.2007.

28,6, (12,7.); Rheinischer Merkur Nr.

DIE ZEIT from 28th.06. 07

Die Welt from 28.6.2007

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