Deep Fissures in Europe

Steven LeBlanc

Angela Merkel’s popularity in Germany and the rest of Europe is in decline

So many areas of disagreement exist between EU member states.  Will this polyglot consisting of 28 nations, where 25 different languages are spoken, survive as a united entity?  For certain we see in this super state a modern tower of Babel.  The EU today is on thin ice; it continues to be both a political and economic giant, but a wobbly giant ready to keel over.  Remember, the population of the European Union is over 510 million, nearly 200 million more than the United States and don’t forget the EU’s GDP is larger than the American GDP.  Europe’s economy and its refugee crisis impact the whole world; it is a mistake to think of Europe as an impotent antiquated place that plays a minor role in the world.

Europe today is being pulled apart.  Topping the list of disagreements is the refugee crisis.   Germany is pressing member nations to take in more refugees; Poland, Austria, Hungry and Italy are aggressively saying no to Angela Merkel of Germany in this request.  Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann announced his country would only accept a limited number of asylum-seekers each day — an announcement that led to border closures up and down the Balkans – The relationship between Chancellor Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Faymann is frigid.  Border controls and border fences have been implemented all over the continent, as nations take individual measures to blunt the flow of refugees.  Hungary, Austria, Slovenia and Macedonia have all built a fence to stop the surge of refugees coming up through Greece and the Balkans.  This is something that Germany did not want (fences erected at borders).  The Chancellor believes fences will only encourage nationalistic behaviors and distrust between European nations.

Chancellor Merkel of Germany wants to see a Europe that helps the refugees, a Europe that will not be divided over the goal of free and easy travel within the European Union Schengen zone, the European free movement area that allows easy trade and travel between European countries.

As summer approaches Austria is preparing to close its border with Italy, a move that raises the prospect of tens of thousands of migrants being stuck in Italy, creating a similar nightmare that has developed in Greece.  Angela Merkel is often described as a leader of rectitude, but the rest of Europe sees her embrace of the refugees as an attempt to spread her compassionate blunder across the entire European Union.

Related to the refugee crisis is the question of what does Europe do about terrorism.  Here is an area of great disagreement between Germany and France.  Earlier in the month before a joint meeting of French and German officials, French President François Hollande said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild, “Our two countries must agree to a budgetary effort on defense. And to act outside Europe. Let’s not rely on another power, even a friendly one (a reference to America), to do away with terrorism.”  Hollande believes Europe has a responsibility to fight against ISIS, Germany takes a much more passive approach– determined not to get drawn into the Middle East mayhem.

The horror of World War 11 still hangs over the German people; they will not be quick to enter into another war with ISIS or any other nation.  As well, it was France and Belgium that were attacked by terrorists not Germany.  Since the Germans have not been attacked in the same way they are more sanguine.

There are two Europes. One, the Europe such as France, Hungary, Austria and Poland, who are frightened about the jihadist threat, and the other Europe is the Germany of Europe that does not want to overreact to the Middle East crisis, including the Jihadist threat. France is acknowledging that Europe cannot simply rely on the U.S. to fight wars with the jihadists. Germany does not want to be pressured by France to get entangled in the Middle East chaos.  France believes that the Middle East chaos is already here in Europe, and we need to do something about it right now, and that German leadership needs to wake up to that reality.

The division between France and Germany is growing and it is significant. The deep fissures within the European Union are also reflected in the forthcoming Brexit decision.  Will Britain leave the EU? Germany wants Britain to remain in the Union. But that discussion is for another day.

In the book of Daniel we see an end-time Europe that is partly strong and partly fragile.  The divisions we are seeing within the European Union today regarding refugees and the jihadist threat showcase that biblical reality of disagreement and vulnerable European alliances: Daniel 2:40-43:

“And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and smashes everything, it shall crush and shatter all these.  As you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the strength of iron shall be in it, as you saw the iron mixed with the clay. As the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with clay, so will they mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay.”

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