THE POLITICAL PAGE
Learning to Live as Christians in Europe
Part I The New Europe
The Lisbon Ratification-Treaty
On 13th December 2007 the Heads of States and Government of the European Union signed the Reform-Treaty in the venerable Hieronym-Monastry in Lisbon .
Actually, there are two treaties compiled in one name: “The Treaty of the European Union” and the “Treaty over the Working Methode of the European Union”. After month of laborious work the Jurist formulated what the “Heads” had decided in terms of content in June under Angela Merkel, the Council President. On 1st May 2008 in Aachen she was rightly awarded the Karls-prize for this historic achievement during her presidency for leading the EU out of the deepest crisis since its establishemnt. The Karls-prize is awarded to Personalities who have rendered outstanding services for Europe and the peace within Europe .
For one and an half year the EU was somehow paralized. Nobody knew how to continue after the „No“ of France and the Netherlands regarding the Constitution-Treaty at the end of May and the beginning of June 2005. The pause was called „a pause for thought“ but reality was called helplessness. Therefore in his speech regarding the Treaty, which bears the name of his capital, Minister-President, Socrates of Portugal pointed to the fact that this treaty wouldn't have been possible without Angela Merkel. She took advantage of the favorable moment that all Heads knew that now it was important to do things properly under her leading before flogging something to death. Thus the result wasn't only a temporary action timetable (according to expectations) but also a clear resolutions in terms of content which were to be continued and brought to a final form by Jurists. Even the Polish President Lech Kacynski profited from it by the vote modality of the new treaty which will be effective in 2014 (see below).
After signing the treaty the member states of the EU have 12 month time to ratify the treaty. The ratification i.e. the agreement of all member states can happen through a referendum or through a parlamentary decision. The same rule that the acceptance of the treaty has to be unanimous aplies now as it did in the first round. In the case that only one country will be rejecting the treaty the process will be stopped and new negotiations have to be started. Based on the experience of 2005 all countries with the exception of Ireland have decided to carry out the ratification through the parlaiment. This is were the constitution requires a referendum.
However, the process clearly evidenciates the deficit of the EU: the lack of citizen-friendliness. It shows that the process of the European Unity is mainly a work of the polical elite, while people say that Europe has always been the reason why everything has become “worse” and “more complicated”. „ Europe “ is not being perceived as a protection against globalization but as a „sub-divison” of the same thing.
Many parlaiments have already agreed. After long debates the German Bundestag agreed and ratificated the treaty with an overwhelming majority of 514 votes on 24 th April 2008 . 58 deputies war against - that means the complete left wing party.
The national represantations, the Federal Council, will surely agree on 23rd May since the Federal Government has promised the Federal States a larger participation in European Policy. Except for Berlin , where the Left-wing party is part of the ogvernment, all states will agree.
Because many will forward a complaint against the unconstitutional decision the Federal Constitutional Court will have again the last word.
The Lisbon Ratification-Treaty at a galnce
If Ireland will agree the Lisbon-Treaty will be effectiv on 1st January 2009. It will give Europe respectively the EU a new character.
MP Socrates considered the treaty to be a „New step toward the Euroepan adventure” and a “New moment in the recunstruction of Europe ”.
He is right. With the treaty a process will come to an end which lasted since the Laeken Summit in 2001. At the summit it became clear that due to the addehration of the 10 new countries in 2004 Europe has to chance from the administrive point of view if it wants to remain operative. That's the reason for the instalment of the 2002 convention, which was to work out a “constitution" as well as procedural rules. The necessity of a reform was still there after bringing the process to its knees. This reform has been implemented by the Lisbon-Treaty and thus a chapter of EU history concluded. In future Europe will look according to the regulation through the Lisbon-Treaty. Therefore it is important for everybody who lives and moves within Europe to be aware of the treaty content.
One thing is for sure: The high expectation of a Europe as one single Federal State , in other words the "United States of Europe" is over. The Chancellor on 24th April in the Bundestag: The EU ins't and will never be a State; it is a peculiar “sui generis” creation.
Wether the attempt of balancing the deficits was successful remains to be seen. The intention of the Policy was to try it in any case.
New rules for Europe
a) A more democratic and transparent Europe
b) A more efficient Europe
Here, it is mainly about administrative changes, which enables the cooperation of 27 independent nation states.
c) A Europe of values and solidarity
The Lisbon-Treaty calls and reinforces the values and targets, which the European Union is built upon. The „Charta of Basic Laws“, which was an element of the “constitution” will be eliminated due to british protestations even though it was considered legally binding by all the other states with the exception of Great Britain and Poland. The European citizens can find a suit for the basic laws at the European Court of Justice.
This Charta not only comprises the „Anti-Discrimination-Law” but also the right of religion and change of religion – a very improtant thing for Muslims in Europe . These freedoms and rights of the Charta are determining Europe and are the reason why people from all over the world consider imigration to Europe .
Solidarity of the Member States The Lisbon-Treaty provides for the EU and its member states to act in common and in solidarity on behalf of a member state which has become a victime of a nature, terror or human error catastrophe. The same aplies to problems regarding the energy supply.
d) Europe as a Global Player
Except for the “double majority” the foreign policy has experienced the largest structural changes.
At the one hand they created a position of a “High Representative for Home and Security Policy" in other words Foreign Secretary position. The position combines the task of the present EU-Deputy of Foreign Affairs Javier Solana and the present EU-Commissionary for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner. At the same time he will also exert the office of a Vice-President of the Commission and he will lead the Council of Foreign Ministers. Thus he is a compiler of all EU instruments for Foreign Policy. Due to this centralization the EU hopes to receive a clear position in relation with its international partners. This is essential for the future of the little and split Europe which will have to deal with political and economical super powers such as China , India and the USA .
In order to represent the European Union as a whole legaly and effectively to them
the High Representative has been equiped with a personal diplomatical office and
they decided to grant the EU as a whole a Status of legal personaltiy .
This is important for the conclusion of contracts on international level: Thus the EU is more seizable as a partner.
In this context it is important to preserve the foreign interests of the member states in particular.
Although he always has to agree with the member states, the person in charge of this office will probably have more dispositive power than the new Council President. It is very improtant to see who will receive this office. In the next few month a huge haggling will be started between nations and factions for the both presidential offices and the commission.
In my opinion the 2009 personal status of a legal personality of the EU does not mean that the EU will set itself up as an own Federal States by the back door. Due to the veto of the British people the falg with its 12 stars and the anthem “Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's 9th Symphony was rejected in the Lisbon-Treaty because they wanted to make clear the EU is not a state by canceling the symbols. Nevertheless the 15 States including Germany documented the acceptance of the Falg and the Anthem as Symboles for Europe .
Criticism of criticism
There are enough critical voices, more then enough. Actually apart from the political elite, you have to search very long for somebody to say something positive about the EU. This anti-attitude is partially a problem of the lack of information regarding the large coherences – they talk only about parts of the effects which are then transposed to the whole; on the other hand this attitude is a problem of the selective apperception – negative things are registered and repeated but on the other side positive things are taken for granted or even negated. Christians however know: „By giving thanks new things come into life". This also aplies here.
The new things emerging in the lives of those who give thanks is the image of a God who is also leading the EU – up to now. The image of a God who remained at the wheel despite some tower building mentalities.
On the other hand the person who gives thanks can therefore be fearlessly aware of the peril points of the unic political construction called “European Union”.
And therefore the EU isn't an anonym Moloch but out of God's perspective it is an “apparatus” made by men which we should and are allowed to shape. Those led by God have ideas and courage.
In addition to this the person released by thankfullness is aware that this huge apparatus is not an anonym something and that everywhere in every position there are people sitting there just like you and me. Paul says in 1. Tim 2,1 that we should pray for these „top executives and administrators“ („Kings and all those in responsibility positions”).
Criticism toward the EU can be addressed for
Here the question of the democratic legitimation of individual institutions of the EU. is coming to the fore. This concern has been meat now in the clear valorisation of the European Parlaiment.
The fear of a supra-state and a Federal State of Europe is still there. Here we have a certain contradiciton because the same people who are scourging the imperfect democratic legitimation, which means who demand more, are also warning against the establishment of a Federal State . Because the more legitimation they built up the more the form of government comes to the fore.
The meaning of these nation states has been emphasized over and over again and the participation of their parlaiments has been encouraged. Nevertheless, there is the continuous concern that national souveranity could be eliminated execessively or totally. At this point it is good to remeber the elipse for the EU with the two centers of power – Center and Nations – due to which the EU is able to function. The subsidiarity principle keeps them apart and also together.
The personal legal personality representing the EU and that the citizens suddently have a 2nd citizenship alongside their national citizenship has also been criticised. This is seen as a proof for the strive of a Federal State . - Whoever thinks globaly and not only national will understand the meaning of it. Europe tries to grant their citizens a political identity compared to other cultures.
A laughter was heard within the countries when the EU-Commissionary stipulated the length of a Banana in Europe . Or how long a cucumber is to be. Or what an 1a appel or egg is.
Is this necessary? Is this a time filler or does it promote prosperity? Answer: Such „ridiculos“ guidelines are a tool for management by objectives for producers which is offering them a legal security regarding the quality assurance. It also enables comparisons and trade across Europe and is an assessement criterion for consumers.
It was a big scandal when the EU allowed the import of sugar from Cuba leading sugar beets farmer into bankruptcy. Then it became obvious how the EU subsidises our expensive production by billions of euros and tariffs the cheeper production from the third world countries with high protective duties in order to save our home agriculture. The agricultural policy is still one of the largest outpost of the EU budget.
The EU subsidises the European products in such a way that an Italian Tomato is cheeper as the one home grown tomato in Ghana . In this way they ruin the indigenious farmer. This is todays white colonialism ! Protestations would be appropriate here. However, only if we are ready to support the consequences.
If Papier, our wise president of the Federal Court of Justice would make the wise decision to put families under the special protection of the state and not granting homosexual couples the same rights since they are not able of reproduction – a thing which was important to the fathers of the basic law in §6 – if this wise decision could be canceled by Spadla's objection, the commissionary for Social Affairs in Brussel, because European right goes against national right, then we need to ask ourselves whether it is worth to be a member of such a Union, which is able to dominate national decisions in such a way.
We have similar cases in Ireland for example, where Spadla wants to force a Christian School to acknowledge homosexual teachers based on the antidiscrimination law.
Christians/Churches have to learn to resist and to stand the test of time in this new situation.
Here, two points taken from an exchange of letters with a wise Christian teacher. She writes:
„Regarding the EU-Image-
The Bible talks about nations respectively people (Deut. 32,8); a supranational entity such as the EU is consequently not intended by God. I considered it inadequately that you declared the EU to be a model.”
Of course, there have always been multi- and supranational entities since the antique empires. They are all summarised in Daniel's statue. To say that they were not in the will of God is a missinterpretation of the dream's target. Because the dream says that they will be crushed by the rock from the top i.e. they are unlasting and the Kingdom of God (Christianity) will hit the last one which is the Roman Empire and destroy it and thus it will bring the row of antique empires (statue) to an end. It isn't mentioned that the empires are against the will of God. Neither Daniel nor Nehemia the cupbearer said such things. The Old Testament says that God will call the people form the north ( Babylon ), Isaiah is calling the king of Persia , king over many people Cyros “my unointed one” = Messiah/Christ by order of God (Is. 45,1); Paul says: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son”. God is the maker of history and he is shaping it according to his plan. What are you doing spiritually with the statement that the EU is not after God's will? Who do you pray then? Theologically it is a dead end, because –unfortunatelly! – God was not able to assert himself.
“The EU money go to Palestine respectively the Hamas.
Millions of euros are being payed to Palestinians whereas a substantial part of it is used for weapons against Israel . The German taxpayer's money is used to kill God's people. Christians should condamn such things. The handling of Israel is a strong indicator regarding right and wrong from a biblical point of view. The latter is the case for the EU here.” (State of affaires in December. 2006)
Am I now wrongly informed or you? I know that the EU has stopped to pay money to Palestine since the election of the Hamas and that the EU later gave the money past the government to the population through the NGO. As far as I know this was the case under Arafat. The thing which scares me regarding the EU is the instalment of a EU-Foreign Secretary. This may possibly constrict the leeway of the own German foreign policy against Israel .
There is no alternative for the EU for us Europeans. To say something else would be Don-Quichottery to say it in an exaggerate fashion: As I could not choose my parents I couldn't and can not choose to be in the EU. As I carry the genetical heritage of my parents in plus and minus in me and as I am called to shape it, thus the EU is the heritage of todays occident: I am called to shape it.
Nowhere in the Bible can I see that the Church can hinder the endtime. The Chruch can shorten this time through prayer at best. But everywhere in the Bible I see the command of God unreservetly to go into the world and penetrate it as salt and light and to shape it.
More about this theme in part 2.
God has his hand over Europe and its historical development. Thus we are grateful for the past and confident regarding future things.
DIE ZEIT 19.3.2008
F. A. Z. 14.12.07; 25.4.08
http://oedp.de Hintergrundpapier zur Verfassungsbeschwerde zum Vertrag von Lissabon
http://www.eureform.net/index.html For Genuine EU Reform
The 2nd part is entitled:
„Christiens are lining up for Europe ”
It will appear st the beginning of June 2008