One of the main architects of the European Union, Jean Monnet, a French diplomat and economist, was convinced after Germany’s defeat in the second world war that the only thing that could prevent another devastating war was for Europe to be politically united. “There will be no peace in Europe,” he wrote in his memoir, “if states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty.” With continental Europe exhausted and devastated by two wars on their soil, it was not a hard idea to sell. Only Britain remained more than a little sceptical.
The idea of a united Europe, however, is much older than Monnet—it was the thinking of the Holy Roman Empire back in the tenth century!
Then, in the 1700s, Frenchman Charles-Irenee Castel published his idea of a European Union in Project for Perpetual Peace in Europe. He proposed a European Senate and a European army, in which the larger European states would have equal voting rights.
From the earliest days, many have wanted to bring Europe together on the basis of religion and unity, with national borders disappearing in “God’s kingdom on earth.” Many have endeavoured to unite Europe on the basis of politics, religion or force, or a combination of all three.
It is not difficult to understand why Monnet’s idea of a borderless, peaceful Europe had such an appeal, following the political divisions and strong nationalistic spirit that caused World War II. A world without political strife seemed like bliss and was what everyone wanted.
Unfortunately, while there have been many positives to come from the formation of the European Union, recent events have revealed some of its flaws.
Some economists are saying that even though June’s election saw the appointment of a pro-European Union party, Greece will eventually have to go back to the Greek drachma. That would create a run on banks, as depositors withdraw their euro cash and put it into more stable assets.
The depression that would inevitably follow would have political consequences, as people would go from moderate to extreme positions on the right and left, as we already see happening. Lenders would then demand higher interest rates in the newly fragile euro zone. This could tip other stricken economies—Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland—over the edge. And if Greece’s exit would be bad, theirs would be disastrous.
The euro zone’s problem, as many have observed, is that it is a monetary union without a political union. The union worked in times of prosperity, but when things go wrong its lack of coherence and political leadership, compounded by fiscal fragmentation, are evident: the stronger economies in this loose union have only limited appetite (and means) to help the weaker.
Of course, this is very much a summary, and the reasons go much deeper. But amazingly this was foreseen more than 2000 years ago by a Hebrew prophet by the name of Daniel, who was the first to talk about the strong and weak countries of Europe, when Europe did not even exist. He was called on to interpret a dream of the then Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, and clearly predicted the rise and fall of the great nations of the world, along with details of Europe itself (see Daniel 2).
Those nations were Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece and Rome. After the fall of Rome, Europe was divided into 10 separate kingdoms, including the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks and Anglo-Saxons.
These kingdoms, progenitors of the nations of modern Europe, are represented by the 10 toes of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: “As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle” (Daniel 2:42), said Daniel.
Then he gives uncanny insight into what is happening in Europe today: “And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay” (verse 43, emphasis added).
Many in history have tried to unite Europe: Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire; France’s Charles V; Louis XIV; Napoleon; Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II; and Hitler, who planned a thousand-year Reich.
Leaders of Europe have tried intermarriage as a means of cementing the nations. Before World War I, practically all the kings and rulers of Europe were related. Yet, family ties failed to prevent the terrible conflict.
For the past two years, Mark Grant, managing director of a regional investment bank based in Florida, USA, has been predicting the bankruptcy of Greece and the cascade of chaos across the global economy, attracting quite a following on Wall Street. He recently likened the nations of Europe to a rancher, where “the real problem is that the horses are sick, infected and that the disease of fiscal mismanagement has spread to virtually every horse in the corral except one and do not expect that one, Germany, to remain disease-free much longer.”
Clearly, the prophet Daniel was correct when he said European nations “will not remain united.” His prophecy continues to be accurate 2500 years on, when it comes to outlining the events of Europe.
However, he also has good news, prophesying that just as Europe becomes completely divided, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44).
And that’s quite possibly the next exciting instalment!
To find out more about Daniel’s amazing prophecies, enrol in the free Bible correspondence course, “Focus on Prophecy”.