After Brexit: Is the European Dream Still Possible?
On June 23 British voters chose to leave the European Union. With this development, is the European dream of unity still possible?
European leaders are in shock after the British vote to leave the EU. Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan is anxious about a domino effect in other EU member states. He fears that other European electorates might now be emboldened to follow Britain’s example and leave—thus “dropping a spanner [wrench] into the works” of the long-held European dream.
Brexit is seen as a stumbling block for the so-called European dream—the ever-closer union of the European states. A significant proportion of the British people have long been skeptical about this “dream.” Amazingly, that “ever-closer union” did not feature much in the debate leading up to referendum day—politicians in the “Remain” camp mainly played on fears of what could happen to the economy if Britain left the EU. Brexiteers kept emphasizing “taking back control of our democracy” from unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.
Where is the dream now?
So where does this leave the dream of an ever-closer union between member states of the EU? Is fulfillment of that dream still possible? Has Britain successfully obstructed the forward march toward a United States of Europe? No doubt some in Europe will embrace that belief. After all, Britain makes the second-largest contribution to the EU after Germany.
Brexit will definitely be a trial for Europe, but its leaders will be inspired as never before to get their act together. Whether or not the EU structure itself stays, the basis for a stronger organization in Europe, the ever-closer union, will continue despite Britain’s exit. In all likelihood it will be spurred forward because of it.
For the immediate future, there is no doubt that Europe’s strategy for reviving its roots has taken a setback. But in the longer term, Brexit could do more to propel the European dream forward than anything else could. There is an unstoppable political and religious determination within the elite of Europe to make this happen—it is just a matter of time. Once the shock of Brexit wears off, there will be even more determination within political and religious leaders to get back to work and eventually reach the dream of a fully united Europe.
Unknown to political and religious leaders in Europe, Bible prophecy shows that this will happen—although with very different consequences than those in the minds of today’s European leaders. There will be a United States of Europe that is described as “the beast” that can rise in no other place on earth except Europe (read Revelation 17).
Whether or not the EU structure itself stays, the basis for a stronger organization in Europe, the ever-closer union, will continue despite Britain’s exit. A closer look at Europe’s past and future
To gain an understanding of Europe’s future, we need first to be reminded of its historical highlights, its character and its long-held religion. Putting these characteristics together in the bright light of Bible prophecy, we can begin to understand Europe’s future as never before. The dream of a united Europe has permeated the history of the continent and the Catholic Church ever since Rome fell in A.D. 476.
In 554 Emperor Justinian accomplished the dream and became emperor of a short-lived, nominally Christian empire.
In 800 Charlemagne was crowned Roman emperor by Pope Leo III and created a close alliance between church and state. He restored the empire in the west and was known as “King Father of Europe.” To learn more, read “Europe Celebrates Charlemagne: The Father of Europe.”
In 962 Otto the Great rejuvenated the Charlemagne Empire as the first fully German Reich, or empire. He was crowned by Pope John VII and labeled his empire as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation—thus making Germany Europe’s power center.
In the 16th century, the medieval ideal of a united empire embracing the entire Christian world was pursued unsuccessfully by Habsburg Emperor Charles V.
In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned by Pope Pius VII and attempted to unite Europe under the banner of France. Napoleon saw himself as a new Caesar and Charlemagne.
In the 1930s and early 1940s Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini also saw themselves as restoring the Roman Empire (Mussolini focusing on the ancient Roman empire created by Italians, and Hitler focusing on reviving the Holy Roman Empire centered in Germany).
All of the above men who claimed to be restoring the Roman Empire clearly understood the importance of involving the papacy. Throughout the last two millennia, the Roman church was considered God’s instrument of authority.
What about today?
Today biblical prophecy is belittled and ignored by most, even those who profess Christianity. Yet the Bible is a source for understanding Europe and its future.
In 1946 Winston Churchill put forward the age-old European ideal, that the continent should build “a kind of United States of Europe.” If the nations of Europe could put aside their long-term differences and unite into a union that made them all mutually dependent on each other, many felt that future continental wars could be avoided. The earliest plans called for Germany and France to be bound into the European Coal and Steel Community.
In 1957 the Treaty of Rome was signed and the European Economic Community, better known as the Common Market, was born. It had six charter members. Many acclaimed it as the nucleus of a new United States of Europe. The dream of a modern Holy Roman Empire was continuing—just being built in a different way. Instead of conquest, the dream was being achieved by peaceful union and integrating the economies of Europe.
Repeatedly throughout the last two centuries, popes have spoken passionately concerning Europe’s future. Pope John Paul II made it very clear that he believed God had called him to promote the unification of Europe.
In 1982 in his “Declaration to Europe,” he wrote, “I, Bishop of Rome and Shepherd of the Universal Church, … utter to you, Europe of the ages, a cry full of love: Find yourself again. Be yourself. Discover your origins. Revive your roots.”
On May 6, 2016, Pope Francis was presented the Charlemagne Prize for contributing to European unification. “Francis was selected as this year’s recipient for reiterating values central to Europe: solidarity, compassion, tolerance and respect for others, as well as for his message of peace and understanding” (New York Times).
Bible prophecy reveals that there will be a final effort toward European unity when 10 kings (nations or groupings of nations) will “give their power and authority to the beast” (Revelation 17:13). This political leader, called the beast, will once again be reunited with a religious leader from Rome, known as “the false prophet” and “the great harlot” (Revelation 16:13; 17:1). The result will be a final political and religious union in Europe.
The Church of God has forecast for decades that Britain will not be part of that final European superstate.
Keep watching Europe!
To learn more about the past and future of Europe, read:
- “The European Dream: “We Must Go Deeper”
- “The European Dream: “Bound by Fate”?
- The Book of Revelation: The Storm Before the Calm