Wednesday, 25 January 2012

History of European Integration IV:
Maastricht Treaty

The fourth part of my short account of European Union treaties. Introducing: the €uro!

Whereas the Single European Act had bound together the three European treaties, the Maastricht Treaty continued the integration — into a union, which is why its official name is ‘Treaty on European Union’. Although amended by the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties, the Maastricht Treaty is largely what the present-day European Union is based upon. Not only did it introduce the three-pillar structure — adding the Common Foreign and Security Policy as well as Justice and Home Affairs to the already existing European Community — it also established the criteria for taking the European Monetary Union to its ultimate third stage, i.e. introducing a common currency, the euro. 1

The Treaty on European Union was signed on 7 February 1992 and entered into force only 20 months later on 1 November 1993 after quite a bit of nail-biting over its ratification in several member states. Notably Denmark and the United Kingdom were granted exceptions from certain parts of the Treaty. 2 For example, the United Kingdom was exempt from being bound by the social dimension, 3 which, along with the extension of the European Union’s competencies to other fields such as education and culture, health and environmental issues, further increased the common European influence on aspects close to the citizens’ everyday life.

by Bjørn Clasen, 2011

1 euro know: Maastricht Treaty
2 BBC News A-Z of Europe: Maastricht Treaty
3 Jens Engelbredt: Den Europæiske Unions Historie — Den Sociale Dimension

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