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Ever Closer Union

Six months have passed since the twelve member states of the European Community held their historic summit conference in the mediaeval Dutch city of Maastricht.

The resulting agreements were essentially a compromise to accommodate the widely varying interests of twelve sovereign states. Despite months of preparation leading up to the conference, there remained a number of difficult issues still to be resolved when the conference met. These issues were thrashed out through many hours of intensive negotiation eventually to produce an agreement which will be used to amend the 1957 Treaty of Rome (the Community's original charter document).

The new agreement proclaimed the birth of a "European Union", with the ultimate aim of European citizenship which would permit every European Community national the right to vote, no matter where domiciled in the Community. Although the word "federal" was omitted from the agreement, in deference to sensitivities about loss of sovereign statehood, the accord did call for an "even closer union". "We're at the stage where nations realize that the only way to keep their sovereignty is to share it", commented one E.C. leader.

There were also measures to improve foreign policy coordination between member states, though the desire of some for a common foreign policy was not achieved. A similar desire for a social charter common to all member states had finally to be left out of the agreement; but a separate protocol was proposed, giving member states the option of agreeing common social policies.

Also as a result of the Maastricht agreement the Community Commissioners in Brussels were given extended areas of responsibility. Industrial affairs, health, education and the environment are all to come within their review. Europe-wide organized crime and narcotics trafficking are to be dealt with by Europol, envisaged as the embryo of a Continental police intelligence service.

It is clear from these aspects of the Maastricht agreement that European thinking has developed beyond economic cooperation to an increasing measure of political integration. Germany's Chancellor Kohl declared:

"This meeting has resulted in the fulfilment of a dream. Further integration is now inevitable. The course is irreversible". President Mitterand of France stated that "a great power is being born".

1992 had of course been targeted by the Community as the year in which the free flow of goods, services and capital between all E.C. countries should be introduced. Now the Maastricht agreement has confirmed that the formal programme for the single market should be completed by 1st January, 1993. In addition, there is a firm commitment to introduce monetary union with a single European currency. The European Monetary Institute is to coordinate E.C. monetary policies from 1st January, 1994. The aim is to establish a European Central Bank and a single currency on 1st January 1997 if certain conditions are met by that date; if these conditions are not met, monetary union may be deferred until 1st January 1999.

With its present membership of twelve countries, the European Community now forms the industrialized world's largest single market, with a population of 340 million people. Its economic power and influence are already formidable, and if monetary union is achieved as planned, the incentive towards further political and social integration will be

increased.

These developments are of deep interest in the light of Bible prophecy regarding the ten-kingdom confederacy featured at the time of the end (1:ev. 17:12-13). This would appear to be represented also by the ten toes of the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Dan. 2:42) and the ten horns of the fourth beast of Daniel's vision (ch. 7:7). The imagery in both these contexts, and' the interpretations given to Daniel, suggest that the end-time confederacy will be related to the ancient Roman Empire. For example, the fourth beast of Dan. ch. 7 seems to answer to the Roman Empire (verse 23); verse 24 continues: "And as for the ten horns, out of this kingdom shall ten kings arise.. ." If this exposition is sound, the present emergence of the European Union, based on the Treaty of Rome, would seem to be highly significant. The more so when the original emphasis on economic affairs seems inexorably to be leading towards a wide measure of political, social and even military integration.

Written across all the complex discussion surrounding the Maastricht Summit, faith reads the ancient word:

"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD as the watercourses: He turneth it whithersoever He will" (Prov. 21:1).