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World News and Prophetic Trends
Reviewing Current World Conditions In Light Of Bible Prophecy
World Report-9 - The European Union - The Revived Roman Empire
The Road to European Union
The idea of uniting Europe is not new. The Roman emperors, Charlemagne and Napoleon all tried in their various ways. In the 19th Century, Victor Hugo proposed a United States of Europe, something Winston Churchill endorsed in the aftermath of the Second World War. Britain, however, drew very different lessons from the impact of war to the rest of Europe. Two devastating conflicts in less than half a century convinced most Europeans of the limitations of the sovereign state and the dangers of militant nationalism. Political and economic co-operation, leading eventually to political union, was seen as essential if war was to be avoided in the future. Britain, however, felt that it was the very fact of its independence and physical separation from the rest of Europe which had been the most important factor in its survival. The stand-alone nation state had, therefore, to some extent been vindicated, and this set the tone for Britain's relations with the rest of Europe in the coming decades
Early attempts at integration
The initial stages of European integration began with the Brussels Pact of 1948, which created the first post-war European intergovernmental organisation when the UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg agreed to establish a common defence system and to consult on economic and cultural matters. Since governments - especially the British - remained reluctant to cede authority to a supranational body, the organisation was based on co-operation rather than on formal integration. It was, therefore, more of a talking shop than anything else.
The military aspects of the pact were soon overshadowed by the creation in 1949 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), an expanded military alliance including the United States and Canada.
In the political sphere, the Council of Europe - organised in The Hague the same year by the five members of the Brussels Pact along with Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Italy, and Sweden - had as its goal greater European co-operation and the protection of human rights.
The Coal and Steel Community - the first big step
None of these developments, however, addressed the central problem of how to resuscitate the might of the German economy - on which Europe's future depended - without also igniting its war machine. It was as a response to this fear that, in May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed that French and German coal and steel production be managed by a common authority within an institution open to other European countries. Ratified by the governments of France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg (the Six), the European Coal and Steel Community, established by the Treaty of Paris, began functioning in 1952.
This was the first international organisation with an integrated federal governing body, the ECSC High Authority. It was the first step to European union.
Members of the High Authority were independent of national governments and decisions were binding on member states. A long-term objective of both Schuman and ECSC President Jean Monnet was to establish a structure for the eventual political unification of Europe through economic integration. Schuman said: '...this proposal will be the first concrete foundation of a European federation which is indispensable to the preservation of peace.'
This development was followed by The European Defence Community (EDC) Treaty, signed in Paris in 1952 but vetoed by the French Assemblée. The Treaty had provided for a European Army, a common budget and common institutions, including a directly elected Common Assembly which was to study ways of creating a federal organisation. The French veto against the EDC Treaty also meant the end of the draft Treaty establishing a Political Community, approved by the ECSC Assembly on 10 March 1953.
The birth of the Common Market
Despite this setback, the foreign ministers of the Six, under the direction of Belgian Foreign Minister Paul Henri Spaak, met to discuss proposals for an integrated economic system and a common structure for the development of nuclear energy. In 1957, the Six agreed to establish the European Economic Community (the EEC or Common Market) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The two treaties formally establishing the new communities to work with the ECSC were The Treaties Of Rome signed by the Six in Rome on 25 March, 1957.
The years 1958-1972 saw the implementation of a number of EEC policies. On 1 January 1959 the first reduction in customs duties between the Six was implemented, culminating in the elimination of all member-to-member duties and common external tariffs in July 1968. The European Social Fund was established in 1962, and the Common Agricultural Policy came into being in 1962.
Britain finally wants to get in on the act
The creation of a customs union among the Six resulted in an expansion of trade which grew from $7 billion in 1958 to $60 billion in 1972, and Britain's initial scepticism turned to mild panic as the economies of the member states grew at double the rate of the UK. Increasingly, Britain began to feel that it was being bypassed in a world of new, emerging power blocs. Britain thus applied for membership in 1963 and again in 1967 - but both times the French president, de Gaulle, vetoed the application on the grounds that the UK was too closely tied to the US. A third application was made in 1970, which was picked up by the new Conservative Government led by Edward Heath, who signed the Treaty of Accession in 1972.
In 1973, the United Kingdom - along with Denmark, and Ireland - was admitted, creating the EC Nine. The Government of Norway had agreed to accession as well, but membership was rejected in a referendum.
In 1974 the Nine decided that European deputies should be elected by direct universal suffrage, and the European Council was formed to meet on a regular basis to deal with community affairs. In June 1979 the first elections to the European Parliament were held. Greece joined the Community in 1981, and Spain and Portugal became members in 1986, creating the EC Twelve. In 1990, the five states of the former German Democratic Republic entered the Community as part of a united Germany. In 1995, the 12 became 15 when Austria, Finland and Sweden acceded.
The enlargement of the Community to include Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 1973 marked the beginning of a period of limited growth, inflation, and high unemployment. The oil crisis of the early 70s, the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system in 1971, and the realisation of the need for greater co-operation to counteract the growing threat of international terrorism which marred the Munich Olympics in 1972, all fuelled the desire for a coherent European response embracing both political and economic union.
Enter Delors - the Community becomes the Union
By the mid-1980s, the prevailing mood in the European Community was that, in spite of progress in many areas, the aim of creating a true common market - the dismantling of all barriers within the Community restricting the free movement of people and trade - had not been realised. In March 1985, Jacques Delors, President of the EC Commission, outlined to the European Parliament the "single market" programme, designed to chart a course for completion of an integrated market by the end of 1992. A Commission White Paper in June 1985 listed legislative measures needed to eliminate all physical, technical, and fiscal barriers to the completion of a unified economic area with free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital.
On July 1, 1987, after ratification by member governments, the Single European Act (SEA) came into force. The act extended the principle of qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers, thus streamlining the decision-making process. It also gave the Community new responsibilities in the areas of social policy, promotion of research and technological development, and improvement of the environment; and increased support for the least developed member states. Budgetary measures adopted in February 1988, which placed limits on the growth of agricultural spending and doubled the allocation for structural funds - resources targeted for regions that are underdeveloped or affected by industrial decline or unemployment - signalled the commitment of member states to implement these provisions.
In addition to defining an action programme for achieving the single market, the SEA endorsed the objective of economic and monetary union, including a single currency. Institutional decisions in this area would continue to be subject to unanimity in the Council and ratification by member states. The SEA also formalised procedures for co-operation in foreign policy among member states and renewed support for the objective of European political union - although it did not include commitment to a common exchange rate and monetary policy or a common defence policy - which partly explains why Margaret Thatcher was such an enthusiastic signatory
Monetary union and Maastricht
When Edward Heath advocated British membership of the EC prior to the 1975 referendum, he argued that far from leading to a reduction of sovereignty for Parliament, membership would enlarge the concept of sovereignty through a process of 'pooling' in a pan-European context. This argument, which the British seemed to accept at the time (there was a two-to-one majority in favour of joining), has come under increasing interrogation subsequently. The pro-European section of the Conservative Party continues to hold on to this position, however, arguing that the trading conditions of the post-war world make economic interdependence an inevitability - which in turn makes talk of national sovereignty an outdated irrelevance.
Europe's first moves towards monetary union were made in 1978 at the Brussels Summit, although Britain, under the leadership of Jim Callaghan, decided not to join. The Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) set up by under the European Monetary System (EMS) had three main aims: to achieve exchange rate stability between member states; to improve economic co-operation between members; and to reduce global monetary instability with European currencies acting as a currency block.
To start with, the EMS set rules by which central banks would intervene to maintain exchange rate parities. Member states therefore had to realign exchange rates to a level where they could maintain a value for their currencies within a plus or minus 2.25pc band of the Ecu, a weighted average - or basket - of all member currencies. The Ecu comprises specified quantities of each member state's currency, the amounts being directly related to the relative strength of each member within EU and external trade. The value of the Ecu is calculated on a daily basis by computing the value of each member state's currency in terms of every other member's currency at the prevailing market exchange rate for each one, and then deriving the average of the total.
Throughout the 1980s in the UK, a fierce debate about the merits of joining ERM ensued, particularly within the Conservative Party. Margaret Thatcher, sustained by her economic adviser Sir Alan Walters, held fast to her free market principles and opposed entry on the grounds that it was futile to try to fix the exchange rate. Neither did she want to lose control over monetary policy and interest rates to the dreaded German Bundesbank. She was opposed by Chancellor Nigel Lawson and Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe and although they forced her to specify the conditions under which Britain would join, the tensions between the two camps led to Howe's removal and Lawson's resignation.
Weakened by the growing opposition to her policies from within her own party and under pressure from Douglas Hurd and John Major, Mrs Thatcher finally agreed to join ERM in 1990. The terms were extremely favourable. The pound was allowed to float within a plus or minus 6pc value around a central rate against the strongest currency (the Deutschemark).
One of the motivations behind the ERM was to avoid the main problem of the Bretton Woods system of exchange rate control (which collapsed in 1979) - namely the uneven adjustment which always forced change on the weaker currencies, causing them to devalue. By creating a bilateral parity system, the idea was that all currencies would share the burden of adjustment equally.
However, in practice, the ERM placed an increasing reliance on the Deutschemark as the anchor of the system in the same way that Bretton Woods had based itself on the Dollar - Chancellor Lawson began shadowing the Deutschemark in 1985, for example, as a substitute for entering the ERM. This situation was formalised in the 1987 revisions of the EMS arrangements in the Basle-Nyborg agreement, which was based on the assumption that Germany would continue to have low inflation and interest rates, and that the Bundesbank would defend exchange rates provided that member nations made the necessary interest rate adjustments to protect their currencies. It was also agreed to extend credit facilities to member nations for longer periods, thus allowing members to draw on credit facilities before a currency reached the limit of its EMS band.
These developments were the prelude to Maastricht - the European Treaty on Monetary Union - the inter-governmental conference held in the Dutch border town in 1991.
As the 1980s drew to a close, confidence in the ERM was at a high all over Europe. In the run-up to the 1992 General Election, enthusiasm for membership was widespread: support came from all the major political parties as well as most economic commentators, the Bank of England and the City.
However, the City's euphoria over another Conservative election victory soon turned sour as problems associated with the enormous cost of German economic, monetary, and political unification began to send inflationary shockwaves through the EMS and the Exchange Rate Mechanism. The Bundesbank raised interest rates at a time when other member states - particularly the UK - needed lower interest rates to get them out of economic recesssion.
The money markets soon realised that none of the ERM members apart from Germany could sustain high interest rates and that devaluations must take place. One by one the weaker currencies were picked off, culminating in the infamous Black Wednesday on 16 September 1992 when, after futile attempts by the Bank of England to shore up the pound, it was forced out of the ERM.
This - contrary to the Government's previous dire warnings - proved to be the prelude to sustained economic recovery in the UK, with inflation, unemployment and interest rates all falling. Thus, as the deadline for deciding whether or not to participate in monetary union approaches, the jury is still out.
France Pushing Ahead On A Unified European Army
France's President Jacques Chirac issued an impassioned plea Tuesday for a European defense structure, and called for an EU rapid reaction force to police the northern Mediterranean. In a speech delivered a month before France takes over as European Union president, Chirac also proposed a summit meeting with states from the former Yugoslavia to encourage the process of democratization there. Addressing representatives of the defense body, the Western European Union, Chirac said that backing up a joint foreign policy via a credible defense capacity was a crucial next step in forging a European identity. The EU must make its voice better heard on the international scene...We are not lacking in conviction or courage. What we need is cohesion and a let us face it political vision, he said. Chirac said that a priority in France's six month presidency would be to press forward on commitments made at the Helsinki summit last December to have a European Army of up to 60,000 men capable of deploying by the year 2003. It seems to me that the time has come to consider reinforcing Europe's rapid reaction capabilities, especially in southern Europe.
There is scope for the establishment of a new European rapid reaction force to intervene in the northern Mediterranean, he said. Prospects for a European defense army have advanced dramatically in the last 18 months..."
FRANCE AND GERMANY UNITE TO PROMOTE INTEGRATION OF EUROPEAN UNION
France and Germany have taken a major step towards forming a single economic government for the 11 countries that have adopted the euro, isolating Britain inside the European Union. The plans, agreed at a meeting in Berlin, involve beefing up the powers of the hitherto informal Euro-11 group of finance ministers from which Britain is excluded as it has not joined the single currency&ldots;Mr. Blair has frequently called for the EU to put its own house in order, and so is not going to oppose outright any move which might speed up much-needed reforms. A Downing Street spokesman said: It's an idea that has been around for some time. It's obviously not a matter directly for the UK, since we are not in the euro, but we would not want any strengthened co-operation among the Euro-11 to cut across Ecofin. However, we have nothing against strengthened co-operation if that means more structural reform in Europe.&ldots; At the Berlin meeting it was also agreed that France and Germany would press for the abolition of the national veto over taxes on savings and capital in this year's constitutional reform, increasing the likelihood that Britain will be backed into a corner at the Nice Summit in December. The French press has reported that the up-graded Euro-11 would have its own chairman with the clout to speak for the euro in the international financial markets, matching the power of the US Treasury Secretary. The accord is the strongest evidence so far that the Franco-German partnership, the traditional engine of EU integration, is coming back to life after two years of quiescence..
EU Charter on Rights Heightens Fear of 'Super-State'
BRUSSELS - A projected charter of fundamental rights for the European Union was supposed to bring the EU closer to its citizens, but so far it has aroused widespread alarm about an allegedly further step toward a federal super-state.
At the European Parliament here, legislators insist that the aim of the 62-member convention drafting the charter is not to add new laws but to bring together existing rights in a single easy-to-understand document. Some of its proponents want the charter to be a mere declaration. Others want it to be enshrined in the EU treaties, meaning that it would take precedence over national laws. The decision is likely to be made at an EU summit meeting in Biarritz, France, in October.
Nowhere has the proposed charter attracted more opposition than in Britain, traditionally hostile to any extension of the EU's powers.
Francis Maude, the foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party, said that if it does become part of the treaties, the charter would be ''the most far-reaching transfer of power from elected national legislatures to unelected European judges yet.'' The Conservatives claim that the charter would elevate the European Court of Justice into something resembling the U.S. Supreme Court.
Keith Vaz, the British government's minister for Europe, dismissed Conservative claims of a federalist plot as ''paranoid rubbish.''
Roman Herzog, the former German president who heads the drafting convention, denied Tuesday that the charter represented ''a European super-state in embryo.'' He insisted that from the beginning he had ''considered it important not to add any more powers'' to those that already exist.
Mr. Herzog was presenting the Parliament's work so far on the charter.
Some of the 50 clauses incorporate rights that already exist in international law, even if they are not always universally respected, such as the freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Mr. Herzog said the drafting convention had listened carefully to nongovernmental organizations, which were invited to an open day at the Parliament on Tuesday, although it had not been possible to adopt all they proposed. In a collective agreement, the organizations have demanded equality between women and men as a founding principle of the union; called for protection of the rights of minorities, including the use of their own languages; and said the charter should be made legally binding on member states and EU institutions.
Critics have focused on some of the social rights and principles contained in the proposed document, such as the right to rest periods and annual paid leave, and safe and healthy working conditions. Although such rights already exist in various EU laws, the critics say their formal inclusion in a charter of rights would create a paradise for litigators.
One British commentator, William Rees-Mogg, has found a potential problem with including even the apparently self-evident first clause of the charter, which states, ''the dignity of the human person must be respected and protected. Everyone is equal before the law.'' If this opened up the right to appeal to the European Court, it could bring to Europe, he suggested, the same kind of battle over abortion that has taken place in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The charter also would guarantee a free press, freedom of assembly and the right of asylum. Other clauses would prohibit human cloning and eugenic selection, ban slavery and trafficking in human beings, guarantee the right to own and bequeath property, give everyone the right to see and correct data concerning himself, and set the EU the objective of promoting the equal status of men and women.
The charter stems from a European summit meeting in Cologne in June last year, when the fortunes of the EU were at a low ebb. The European Commission had just been forced to resign collectively because of allegations of corruption and incompetence, and suspicions that the public was growing increasingly indifferent to the EU were confirmed later that month when voters heavily abstained from elections for the European Parliament.
The leaders at Cologne realized that Europe could not carry out its ambitious project to admit up to 13 new members without public support, and they therefore said it would be a good idea to remind citizens of the rights and benefits that the EU guarantees them.
The discussions about a charter run parallel with intergovernment negotiations on adapting the EU's institutions - primarily the commission, the Council of Ministers and the Parliament - to an enlarged membership. If all goes according to plan, both the institutional reform and the charter will be finally adopted at a summit conference in Nice in December.
What Price Sovereignty for Europe?
German Proposal Thrusts a Complex Question Into the Here and Now
By John Vinocur International Herald Tribune
PARIS - The German proposal for a federalist Europe really means an awkward acceleration into the present of one of Europe's least comfortable issues: whether European Union members want to turn over great slabs of national power to a supranational government .
The gurgle and gush over the plan's linkage, by the French interior minister, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, to alleged Nazi reflexes in Germany only momentarily misdirected attention from the proposal's first and more meaningful result. In the space of a week, the initiative deepened the place of the conflictual questions of sovereignty and national independence in daily European politics.
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of Germany talked in his proposition about establishing an operating European federation over this decade and the next, a middle-term, nonpressing idea. But history, ideology and the voting schedules in some countries (France and Denmark, for example) turn the themes of where Europe wants to go in the long run, and the national prerogatives individual states might sacrifice to get there, into immediate, where-do-you-stand matters.
Mr. Fischer surely sought only to shine a light of long-range perspective though the deep gray of the European Union's discomfort with its common currency's performance and its plans for enlargement eastward. He acknowledged the obvious - that anything with the word ''federation'' in it would be contentious in Britain - yet may not have fully measured the risk that pointing to the end of the road of European construction would very quickly complicate the process of getting beyond the middle.
Poland provided evidence at once. Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek reacted at first, it was reported, by praising the German initiative's ''courageous vision.'' Then, rethinking its effect on domestic politics and in relation to Poland's centuries of struggle to maintain its identity, Mr. Geremek drew back. ''I think,'' he said, ''that this proposition is contrary to the manner of thinking of the candidate countries that have just recovered their independence and their sovereignty.''
In Lisbon, the Foreign Ministry said flatly, ''Portugal doesn't see itself corresponding to the federal model.'' In Copenhagen, it became clear that the outcome of Denmark's referendum Sept. 28 on whether to join the EU's common currency could be significantly affected by the Fischer initiative because it re-emphasized the wider issues of sovereignty involved in accepting the euro.
Such questions of national independence are extremely sensitive and complex in France, which has said it looked over Mr. Fischer's shoulder as his formulation came into being.
In a French frame of reference, guarding the nation's specificities, encouraging its needs for self-affirmation and fashioning its attempts at world resonance are among the most essential tasks of a French leader.
With a proposed federalist program of shared power in Europe, Mr Fischer, in a sense, has challenged this French concept and created a situation requiring serious, programmatic responses from both President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
Although both have addressed Europe's future in recent speeches, neither has offered anything vast or substantive to compete with the German lead. Ironically, as likely rivals for the presidency in 2002, Mr. Chirac and Mr. Jospin are continuously engaged in a sometimes subterranean competition over who best represents French interests.
This fact, and the excitement of sovereignists like Mr. Chevenement about denouncing anything federal, would seem to push the debate about Europe's eventual shape into the forefront of French political life. Mr. Chirac has announced major speeches at the end of the month here, and then before the Bundestag in Berlin in late June, yet there is no certainty France will provide a soaring plan for the EU's future.
On a practical level, France is very much involved in the detail work of its six-month presidency of the European Council, beginning in July, and would not want to dilute the focus of its reform proposals aimed at enabling the EU to double in size.
But more important, France may not have an operative concept at hand. As opposed to Germany's view of European institutions, French instincts suggest the country has more to gain from a rough replication of the status quo than in a visionary flight forward.
Thinking in France of Europe's finality, as it is called in Brussels, means confronting the necessity that the country, for the first time, will have to give up elements of what constitutes its identity and self-esteem. Unlike Helmut Kohl, who surrendered the Deutsche mark and the role of the Bundesbank for the cause of Europe, there is no active politician in
France proposing French reintegration of NATO, however Europeanized, as a gauge of willingness to share sovereignty.
As far as Mr. Fischer's federalist call goes, Mr. Chevenement, the Socialist nationalist within the Jospin government, told a French reporter that neither Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine nor Mr. Jospin ''wants to go very far with it.'' Alongside the scolding Mr. Chevenement received for his coarse views on Germany, that description of his boss's position has drawn no denials.
Under the circumstances, this returned Europe to a position where it finds itself repeatedly. That is, dealing with a complex and emotional issue that no time soon will enhance the political cohesiveness the community so much wants to project.
Vatican rejects EU's 'ungodly' or Anti-Christian bill of rights
ROME - THE Vatican stepped yesterday into the controversy over the Charter of Fundamental Rights to be adopted at the European Union summit in Nice next week, saying that it was a godless or Anti-Christian document.
It emphasised that among other concerns the charter would cause moral and social harm by sanctioning homosexual unions and making it easier for homosexual couples to adopt children.
Andrew Duff, Liberal Democrat MEP for the Eastern region and the European Parliaments rapporteur on the Nice charter, said that he greatly regretted the Vaticans intervention, which appeared to refer to the charters ban on discrimination on grounds of gender or sexual orientation. He said it was particularly unfortunate at a time when the far Right in Italy was using similar language to create fear and tension during the current Italian election campaign. The charter is to be proclaimed at Nice, leaving the question of whether it would be legally binding at a later date. It received bipartisan support in the Italian Parliament this week. But Italy faces an election by next spring, and the Northern League, led by Umberto Bossi, which forms part of the centre-right opposition, has opposed proposals to allow adoption by gay couples which it says would undermine the family and the fabric of society.
Signor Bossi also argues, again with Vatican support, that the West shows excessive tolerance toward Muslim immigrants who fail to assimilate into society, and has attacked the proposed EU bill of rights as part of a communist plot to create a European superstate.
Yesterday Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Popes right- hand man as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the modern successor to the Holy Inquisition said the charter upheld family values in theory, but in promoting the rights of homosexuals it had departed from the beaten track followed by the moral history of humanity.
He said: We find ourselves faced with the destruction of the image which man has always had of himself. He added it was regrettable that God and our responsibility before God had not been anchored in the European constitution. Il Giornale said the message echoed the Popes call to legislators to remember their duty to God during celebrations last month marking the proclamation of Sir Thomas More as the patron saint of politicians.
In October the Conference of European Catholic Bishops said that the charter was positive insofar as it promoted peace, justice and social harmony. But it was frankly unacceptable when it failed to distinguish between the right to marry and the right to form a family, a formula clearly intended to legitimise unions other than matrimony between man and woman. In Roman Catholic doctrine, only male-female unions are sanctioned by God, since only they can lead to natural reproduction. Homosexuality is defined as an abnormal condition.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Vicar of Rome who is a close aide to the Pope, said the charter failed to take adequate account of the historical and cultural roots of Europe, in particular Christianity, which represent Europes soul and which still today can inspire Europes mission and identity.
But Mr Duff said the Vatican had apparently not understood that the EU is a secular authority. It was not godless, but the purpose of the charter was to reflect modern European society. He added; I am sorry the Vatican is seeking to blunt the force of this charter of citizens rights.
EUROPEAN UNION POLICE FORCE COULD BE A REPRESSIVE MONSTER, SAYS REPORT
The London Electronic Telegraph reports: The European Union is creating a repressive federal system and its enforcement arm could become a monster, according to a European Parliament report. Recent moves to build a common European judicial area are laying the foundations for an EU justice department backed by a federal police with ambitions to tackle eurocrimes, concluded the study by a French jurist, Pierre Berthelet.
A European Commission spokesman said there was no question of creating a federal system. He said: We're not going to have some kind of Euro-FBI. Eurojust and Europol can only be used for major crimes when it is proved that there is a cross-border aspect that can't be solved by countries acting alone.
The report claimed that the European Police Office, Europol, was acquiring intrusive powers without being subjected to proper oversight by any democratic body. It said: The lack of control could transform Europe into a monster. Europol began as a clearing house for information on drug trafficking, but can now demand crime data from member states, initiate investigations, and participate in joint police raids. Its agents have immunity from prosecution&ldots;
EU TAKES OVER WEU'S SATELLITE TRANSMISSION CENTER FOR IMPROVED MILITARY DEFENSE AND NAVIGATION PURPOSES
The EU Observer reports: Green light was, yesterday, given for the European Union to adopt a center for transmission and analysis of satellite pictures previously under the control of the Western European Union (WEU), writes the Danish Newspaper Berlingske Tidende. The plan is that the center, at Torrejon in Spain, will support the European Unions new military co-operation, according to Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting in Brussels yesterday. In addition, it is under consideration that the center at Torrejon also might play a role in relation to the development of the European Unions new Galileo project with a navigation and control system for satellites.
The European Union has at the same time taken over the WEUs security policy institute in Paris, aimed at providing advice and support on security policy analysis within the European Union. Not all 15-member states will participate fully in the new program. Denmark, due to its opt out of European Defense and Security co-operation, will not take part in the military aspects of the new program, but only in the civil part&ldots;
EUROPEAN SINGLE CURRENCY SHOW ON THE ROAD
Agency France-Presse reports: More than 300 million people are to begin adopting euro banknotes on January 1, the first time since the Roman empire that a single currency is accepted from the Aegean to the Atlantic.
The ECB celebrated accordingly, with a sound and light show at the opera and 13 displays of the new banknotes on star-shaped pillars, 12 of which were to scatter on Friday to the euro-zone nations' central banks. A virtual currency since January 1999, the euro notes and coins will arrive on Saturday in advance shipments at banks, and in some European stores shortly after, where they are to remain under tight wraps until January. Armed forces and specially-trained police units backed by dogs, helicopters, warships and satellite surveillance are part of a massive operation which has already begun to distribute more than 380 billion euros (350 billion dollars). It will continue until most French francs, German marks, Greek drachmas (the oldest currency), Italian lire, Spanish pesetas and seven other legacy notes and coins have been collected and recycled or destroyed.
Small packets of euro coins will be available on December 15, but the ECB has insisted that about 14.5 billion banknotes and 50 billion coins be held under strict conditions to hinder counterfeiting. Since most European residents will be totally unfamiliar with how a euro note feels, the chances of being passed a fake bill are heightened in the first days of circulation. On Thursday however, the Dutch ECB chief stressed that the euro had already become a tangible reality and no longer just a virtual currency used mainly by financial markets...
VATICAN OFFICIALLY CONVERTING TO EURO
ETWN reports: The Vatican has confirmed that the euro will be its official unit of currency, as of January 1, 2002. The official announcement adopting the euro was published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official publication of Vatican actions, on September 6.
The Vatican had already indicated, in December 1998, that the euro would become the official unit of monetary exchange inside the Italy governing the introduction of the new currency.
The Vatican will now adopt the euro according to the schedule and conditions set up by the European Union. The agreement allows for the Vatican to mint coins engraved with its own designs. To date there has been no announcement from the Vatican as to whose image would appear on the coins&ldots;
The Vatican State is now officially becoming a major player in the Revived Roman Empire - The European Union or the United States of Europe!
Terror attacks 'will bring EU closer together'
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels
THE terrorist attacks on America have changed the political landscape in Europe, opening the way for closer political union, Romano Prodi, the European Commission president, said yesterday.
He said he had instructed all commissioners to draw up plans over the next few weeks to accelerate the pace of European Union integration.
Mr Prodi said in Brussels: "These events have happened at a crucial point in the building of Europe. The current crisis favours integration by highlighting the need for more intense action.
"The events of September 11 oblige us to act resolutely and rapidly, but not unthinkingly, to continue down the road on which the EU has already embarked.
"We have almost fully completed economic and monetary integration. We now need to turn together to social issues, sustainable development, justice and security."
Mr Prodi singled out the gains already achieved in the area of judicial co-operation and anti-terrorism since the attacks. At an emergency summit on September 21, EU leaders agreed in principle on an arrest warrant that eliminates the need for extradition from one EU state to another for most serious offences.
Diplomats said this was a "quantum leap" towards EU judicial union, entailing mutual recognition of each country's legal system.
The 15 leaders also agreed to give the EU an intelligence function for the first time, converting Europol into a central agency for espionage data on terrorism. At a separate meeting, EU justice ministers agreed to establish a joint prosecuting office, known as Eurojust.
This week, the commission put forward plans to give Brussels control over civilian and military aviation in EU member states, citing the terrorist threat as a reason to end the system of national air traffic controls.
The measures include a proposed EU takeover of national airspace by 2004 and the creation of an EU-level regulator.
The transport commissioner, Loyola de Palacio, refused a bail-out for struggling airlines, seeing the crisis as a chance to break the old mould and build a pan-European system. She said: "It is time to get beyond national carriers and move to European carriers."
We must play front-line role, says Schröder
IN a powerful speech to the German parliament yesterday, Gerhard Schröder said his country must draw a close to the post-war era and stand ready to play a front line role in international military actions.
The chancellor told MPs the time had come for the nation to take up new and heavy responsibilities in the modern world, rather than continue as a secondary military player living under the shadow of its past.
In what may go down as the defining speech of his chancellorship he said the German people, "who overcame the effects of the Second World War thanks to the help of their American and European friends, now have a duty to meet this new responsibility".
The reunited Germany was a powerful sovereign nation whose interests were no longer best served by taking a back seat on military and security issues, he said.
"Until 10 years ago no one would have expected more than 'secondary help' from Germany in the provision of infrastructure or finance towards international efforts to maintain freedom, justice and stability. This era of German post-war history . . . is irrevocably past.
"After the end of the Cold War, the restoration of German unity and the recovery of our full sovereignty, we must face international responsibility in a new way.
"It is a responsibility which corresponds to our role as both an important European and transatlantic partner, but also as a strong democracy and a strong economy in the heart of Europe.
"There are more reasons why Germany, in the current situation, must show its presence and its active solidarity in the international alliance against terrorism. Historical reasons, contemporary reasons and reasons which have to do with the position of Germany in the future."
Mr Schröder, conscious that Tony Blair has assumed the role of Europe's main link with America, was speaking the day after returning from Washington, where he assured President Bush of his government's "complete solidarity" with the American-led military offensive in Afghanistan.
Germany has already provided 60 troops to man Nato Awacs surveillance planes and a frigate in the Mediterranean. Mr Schröder has made it clear that he stands ready to answer further requests for assistance.
The chancellor has rallied the main political parties behind his pro-America stance. In a nation that remains nervous of any talk of returning to war, the political consensus is proof of a growing recognition that Europe's largest and richest nation could be marginalised if it continues in the background of such vital debates.
Germany's first military involvement since the Second World War came when it sent 4,500 peacekeeping troops to Kosovo in 1999. Recently it assumed the leadership of a new Nato peace-keeping mission in Macedonia.
Joschka Fischer, the foreign minister, said the attacks on America had highlighted a need to speed up the process of European integration.
"The fight against terrorism means above all making progress with European integration, otherwise the Europeans will be marginalised in the new world order. We have got less time to do this than we all thought," he said.
European nations could not act as independent sovereign states in the face of such a threat.
Mr Fischer also backed Mr Schröder, saying Germany had to be at the forefront of the anti-terrorism fight. "Germany cannot stay on the sidelines. We are too big and too important."
EU SET TO HAVE ELECTED PRESIDENT
December 16, 2001
The London Electronic Telegraph reports: The European Union last night set a clear course to create a directly-elected president in a significant step towards a European superstate. Tony Blair failed to block the move by other EU countries to create the new post, whose occupant would have a greater democratic mandate than any national leader.
The proposal will be fleshed out by a convention to be headed by the veteran former French president, Valerie Giscard d'Estaing, it was decided yesterday at a summit in Laeken, Brussels&ldots; The so-called Laeken Declaration describes the union as at a crossroads as it prepares to become one big family following enlargement from 15 to up to 30 countries&ldots;
The final draft also argues for a new EU constitution and suggests that it could enshrine the controversial Charter of Fundamental Rights which Britain has so far refused to incorporate into UK law. The declaration also includes proposals for new European electoral constituencies which would encourage Europe-wide political parties rather than merely groupings of national parties&ldots;