European Union Part 1 Week of 6/10/19
Last month the European Union (EU) finished voting to elect new representatives to their legislative body. But, what is the EU, what is their importance and how is it different from the United Nations?
After WW1 & 2, there was an outcry in Europe to create some kind of vigilance to prevent another episode of war. In 1948, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Great Britain signed the Brussels Treaty, which set the terms for economic, social, cultural and especially collective self‐defense (the basis for the Western European Union). (Just a note‐a year later these nations (and seven others) went on to sign the North Atlantic Treaty which is the basis for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). See our blog of 4/8 & 15/19 for more on NATO. Interestingly, NATO is also based in Brussels.)
Since coal and steel were imperative for war machines to run, those in leadership decided to form the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). This treaty (the 1951 Treaties of Paris) created free‐trade among the then six member countries. Those countries were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. This was followed by the 1957 Treaties of Rome which authorized collaboration in atomic energy development, research, and application between member countries. It also opened up borders, provided fair trade markets by requiring governments to eliminate national regulations on preferred domestic industries and created the European Economic Community (EEC). Addressing the issues of social‐policy (meaning they concerned themselves with their member states response to the global challenges of social, demographic and economic change, poverty, migration and globalization) they saw a need to create the European Social Fund, prompting job opportunities by aiding workers′ the ability to easily move from location to location in order to obtain work.
By 1965 the EEC had combined all their committees consolidating them into one entity—re branding as the European Communities (EC). With the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, the EC officially became the European Union. Here is a three minute video on the history of the EU. The Maastricht Treaty strengthened the European parliament, created a central European bank, and implemented universal foreign and security policies within its members. The treaty also laid the groundwork for the establishment of a single European currency, to be known as, the euro. That treaty was signed by twelve nations: Great Britain, France, Germany, the Irish Republic, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Today, the EU is made up of 26 member countries which include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. (As discussed in last week′s blog, the citizens of the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU after 43 years.)
The importance of the EU in today′s world?—Lord willing, we should be discussing this question, along with problems besetting the EU and possible solutions next week.
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Same Political Ploys—Four Different Nations Week of 6/3/19
It has never been easy to govern a nation and in this modern era things have not changed. Take, for example, British Prime Minister, Theresa May. On June 7, she (under the urging of political leaders) will resign her position due to the controversy over Brexit. In case you are not familiar with Brexit, in a nut shell, the people of Britain voted in 2016 to leave the European Union. They did not desire the economic advantage (or disadvantage) the EU was offering and took offense at becoming Europeans instead of what they are, Brits. However, besides the red tape of leaving the EU, English officials also needed to take into consideration there neighboring country, Ireland. The Emerald Isle is a member of the EU and England is their biggest buyer. Therefore, trade agreements needed to be in place; not to mention, working out the provisions for leaving the EU before they actually left. But, it has been a rocky road and agreements within the British Parliament alone have been nil.
Many Brits appear to be asking; if the voters of Britain want to leave the EU—then why isn′t it done? If the majority in Britain voted for Brexit and the government listened to the people—Theresa May would probably not be resigning, nor still waiting for agreements to pass through Parliament (there have been three previous failures). Bipartisan talks would already have succeeded and she, at this time, should be negotiating with EU officials—but, this is not the case. Now, the job of PM is up for grabs. Until a replacement can be made from within her party, Theresa May will still hold the position, but her party insures that a successor will be chosen by the end of July. Regarding the most recent EU voting this past week, Brits did indeed take part. The government says if Britain successfully disjoins their selves from the EU by the end of June (which is highly unlikely), then elected EU officials will not be needed to fill any positions. The new deadline date for Brexit is October 31, 2019.
Another PM with problems is Sebastian Kurz. A year and half ago, at 31yrs old, he was not only the youngest ever Austrian PM, but also the youngest among world leaders (see our blog of 6/25/18). Just last month the Austrian Government voted to oust him, with a vote of no confidence. The offense came over the vice chancellor, Heinz‐Christian Strache of the Freedom Party. This party, from the onset, was a controversial coalition due to the fact that the founders were former Nazi officers. A union of this nature caused uneasiness within other political factions in Austria. So, what tipped the scale? It appears the vice chancellor was caught on video offering to fix state contracts with a woman posing as a Russian oligarch′s niece. Unfortunately for Herr Strache, the Russian oligarch did not have a niece and the whole event was an undercover scam caught on video. Immediately, PM Kurz denounced the political relationship between his party and the Freedom Party listing this and other lesser scandals (mostly involving Freedom party officials involved in anti‐Semitism or racism) that had previously strained their union. He proposed that the President of Austria hold snap elections, in hopes of swaying political leader′s confidence—however, this tactic did not work. Kurz now vows to come back even stronger in the September elections as he is still very popular.
Shifting to the Middle East, it appears Benjamin Netanyahu was surprisingly not able to form the collation he needed to make a government. Some blame the elected Netanyahu, due to the bribery charges. PM Netanyahu blames his traditional ally (sometimes bitter rival), Avigdor Lieberman. According to the PM, “The public chose me, and Lieberman, unfortunately, deceived his voters. From the beginning he had no intention to do what he said” which would be to form a coalition with Netanyahu. After Netanyahu got elected, apparently Lieberman demanded, before forming a coalition, continuation of current legislation mandating young ultra‐Orthodox men to be drafted into the military. The ultra‐Orthodox (another of the PM′s allies) do not believe their youth should have to serve in the military for religious reasons. Obviously, those who are required to serve do not think it fair that the ultra‐Orthodox don′t have to serve. Hence, a stale mate and no government created. With second elections scheduled to take place in September, (it is unprecedented for two elections in the same year) Israel will have been without a working legislative government since December 2018 and there is no guarantee that Mr. Netanyahu will be in a position to run. He may not be able to maintain leadership within his own party. Plus, it appears he will need to stand trial for the bribery charges just before the elections. What would Israel look like without the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu? Sadly, it could take a twist and as desired by the Blue and White leaders, would no longer be a Jewish State, but a state for all Israelis—Jew and Muslim alike with equal power.
Back in the United States (actually, the states are hardy united) President Trump is facing fierce opposition from his political opponents. This is not unusual—the interesting fact is that the same political tactics that are plaguing PM Netanyahu are also happening in the U.S.—the accusations, the lawsuits, the public tar and featherings. However, the Christian citizens of the U.S. have opted to come together for a day of prayer for their elected leader (whether they voted for him or not) and their country. Last Sunday, Christians prayed and some fasted to entreat the Lord for President Trump who needs prayer for protection, strength, encouragement, and guidance while facing these political attacks. Some criticize the event saying that it only politicizes prayer; but the nation of America is different from any other country around the world, because she was founded upon such principals. And Scripture teaches us to pray for our leaders (even publicly)‐ref 1 Tim 2:1‐4.
While there is a strong similarity between Israel and the U.S. regarding attacks on the leaders by opposing political opponents—all of the above mentioned leaders have one particular thing in common—they support a Jewish nation.
How does this relate to the Bible? The Scriptures talk about the governments that will be in place on earth during the Tribulation. Check out this link. The views of this world—the way people think and act in these last days (days before the Tribulation) are lining up with the Bible more and more. A poll done back in 2013 suggested that 41% of all U.S. adults (Christian and non‐Christian) believed the world we live in was the biblical end times. However, today people are mocking—especially young people. Originally, New York democratic representative, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (youngest person to be elected to the House) passionately made the comment that she and other young Americans fear “the world is going to end in twelve years if we don′t address climate change.” Because of the criticism she received she later tweeted, “Like the “world ending in twelve years” thing, you′d have to have the social intelligence of a sea sponge to think it′s literal.” Some people believe along those lines. Others either don′t care or are too busy to consider if the world is actually ending within their lifetime. There are scientific studies that suggest the world will not be able to sustain the current population. More studies that suggest climate change will be our demise. Earthquakes, volcanoes all have been credited with the end of civilization, as we know it. For what the Bible says on these topics, check out this link and here for more detailed reading.
If you truly are concerned about your future, consider reading this WHEN sermon, W‐When, H‐He, E‐Enters, N‐N, When He Enters N, (WHEN). Life is a test. Don′t make the wrong decisions. Jesus loved you enough to die on a cross to pay for your sins—that means when you die you don′t have to go to hell which is a place of torment. There are no parties in hell—only suffering and misery. But, if you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will go to the judgment seat of Christ. Click here to read more about Judgements.
Sources: elitedaily.com; vox.com; euronews.com; worldatlas.com; time.com, reuters.com; foxnews.com; cbsnews.com; quora.com, aljazeera.com, newsweek.com, religionnews.com, eu.usatoday.com, snipbytes.com, blogs.reuters.com, theclever.com/, nypost.com,
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