What’s Behind France and Germany’s New Treaty?
Europe has deep divisions that threaten to rip the EU apart. Yet despite this, France and Germany are forging ahead toward an ever closer union. Why is this significant?
To understand what is happening in Europe today, you have to understand the terrible wars that divided the continent in the last century, as well as the impetus for peace that has shaped it over the last 75 years. Germany and France have been major participants in both.
War and peace
World War II began on Sept. 3, 1939, when France and Britain declared war on Germany. This occurred two days after Germany invaded Poland. A few months later, German forces invaded Belgium and France. In just six weeks, Germany had defeated and occupied France.
Nearly five years later, when Germany was finally defeated by the Allied forces, France participated in the Allied occupation of Germany. For years after the war, France deeply distrusted Germany and supported keeping it weak and divided.
The strong Franco-German relationship built on the Élysée Treaty has served as the driving force for closer European integration. This tension persisted for 18 years until West Germany and France signed the Élysée Treaty on Jan. 22, 1963. This treaty of friendship was just six pages long, but it was designed to help alleviate the distrust and strain between the two nations. It laid the groundwork for reconciliation and aimed to turn the former rivals into partners.
Article II of the treaty read: “The two governments will consult each other, prior to any decision, on all important questions of foreign policy.” Because of this, representatives of both nations meet regularly to discuss foreign policy issues.
The strong Franco-German relationship built on the Élysée Treaty has served as the driving force for closer European integration. German and French leaders feel that it is as important as ever to combat the rising tide of nationalism in many EU nations. Populist nationalist leaders are forming new anti-EU alliances and are a reality of the continent’s political landscape that can’t be ignored. Populist leaders have come to power in nations like Italy, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and seem on the verge of coming to power in Denmark and Finland.
A new treaty
On Jan. 22, France and Germany signed a treaty extension, Élysée Treaty 2.0, to forge an even closer relationship. Their intention is to accelerate European integration and combat the nationalist movements around Europe. The new treaty may contribute to setting Europe on a new course—a course that could fulfill many end-time Bible prophecies.
The new treaty, signed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, comes on the heels of Italy and Poland forming an anti-EU alliance. The treaty text states: “Both states will deepen their cooperation in foreign affairs, defence, external and internal security and development and at the same time work on strengthening the ability of Europe to act independently.” It will deepen ties between the two nations in the areas of, but not limited to, security issues, defense and economic policy.
As the Jan. 19, 2019, issue of The Economist put it, the new treaty shows that “France and Germany are still at the heart of the European project, guiding and dominating it, even as the British prepare to depart.”
The treaty also makes the inclusion of Germany as a permanent member of the UN Security Council a priority. The rise of Germany on the world stage should not be underestimated. Just over 70 years ago, the UN was formed by the victors of World War II while the battered and decimated Germany was split in half between the Western powers and the Soviet Union. Germany has gone from one of the world’s most hated and feared nations to the most popular nation in the world with one of the strongest economies. We shouldn’t ignore the significance of Germany possibly joining the UN Security Council alongside the victors of the war that Germany caused just 80 years ago.
Germany has gone from one of the world’s most hated and feared nations to the most popular nation in the world with one of the strongest economies. During the first Élysée treaty a preamble was added to include the United States as a partner for German reunification and to allow for the U.K. to join the European Economic Community, as it was then. The preamble angered French President Charles de Gaulle, who did not want the U.S. and the U.K. to be included.
With this new treaty, the situation is totally reversed. The United States, which helped liberate Europe and almost single-handedly rebuilt Germany, is no longer viewed as a reliable friend and ally of Europe and is withdrawing from world affairs, as the United Kingdom is in the midst of leaving the European Union.
Interestingly, the new treaty will be signed in Aachen, a German border town and the birthplace of Charlemagne, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne is claimed by both the French and German as their own (he’s known as Karl der Grosse in Germany). And he is considered the “father of Europe” because he successfully united Western Europe under himself (and the papacy). To learn more about Charlemagne’s historic and prophetic significance, read our blog post “Europe Celebrates Charlemagne: The Father of Europe.”
A revived empire
The peoples of Europe are currently engaged in a battle of ideas about what direction the continent should go. The nationalists would like to see a “Europe of nations and freedom,” while France and Germany are determined to see the goal of the Treaty of Rome fulfilled, which is an “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.”
Why is this important to us? The Bible is relevant for us today and reveals prophetic information for our time.
The Bible reveals that eventually 10 national leaders will emerge, called “ten kings,” who will unite to form a powerful political and economic union. These leaders will have “one mind” and will surrender their sovereignty to a single leader (Revelation 17:13).
This new treaty could advance the fulfillment of these prophecies. The closer France and Germany are to each other, the more strength they will have to influence the rest of Europe to go in the direction they desire.
A new era is coming for Europe. It will become the globe’s dominant political and economic powerhouse. In fact, the world will marvel at its rise to global supremacy (Revelation 13:3). But this supremacy will be short-lived and lead to a global war on a scale never before seen in human history. The return of Jesus Christ will save mankind from this conflict that will threaten human existence (Matthew 24:22).
Keep watching Europe.