The Treaty of Maastricht (1992)
The Treaty of the
of the European Union (TEU), also known as Treaty of Maastricht for having
been signed in that Dutch town, constitutes a turning point in the
European integration process. By Modifying the previous treaties -Paris,
Rome and Single European Act-, the initial economic objective of the Community,
building a common market, was outstripped and, for the first time, a
distinctive vocation of political union was claimed.
of Maastricht changed the official denomination of the EEC. Henceforth, it
will be known as European Union.
Union is used from the very beginning of the Treaty to clearly convey the advancement in a
historical project. This way, the article 2 of the Treaty of the
European Union affirms:
"This Treaty marks a new
stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples
will have a structure based on three
pillars, according to the artificial parlance created by those who devised
and edited it. The metaphor used refers to a TEU made up as an Greek
temple sustained by three pillars:
the first pillar, the central
one, alludes to the Community dimension and comprises the arrangements set
out in the EC, ECSC and Euratom Treaties, i.e. Union citizenship,
Community policies, Economic and Monetary Union, etc.
the new pillars, the lateral
ones, are not based on supranational competences as the previous one, but in the cooperation among the
governments: the second pillar is the Common
foreign and security policy (CFSP) and the third one refers to Police
and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
Which is the
great difference between the so called community pillar and the new ones, based on
intergovernmental cooperation? Basically it has to do with the procedure
of taking decisions and with the competences of the
community institutions. Meanwhile in the community pillar decisions passed
on a majority will be more and more a general rule, and the role of
community institutions is essential; in the so called intergovernmental cooperation pillars
decisions must be taken take by common consent and the Commission,
Parliament or the Court
of Justice have scarcely competences.
to the first pillar, the community one, the TEU introduces important
The institution of a Citizenship
of the Union.
step ahead: the Economic
and Monetary Union (EMU). The introduction of an European
currency, the Euro, was decided. It would take place following a three
From 1990 to 31 December
1993. Its objective would be a completely free
circulation of capitals.
From 1 January 1994 to 1 January 1999. The
member countries must coordinate their economic policies in order to
achieve some objectives, fixed
quantitatively and known as convergence
criteria: reduction of inflation and interest rates, control of
government deficit and debt and respect of normal fluctuation
margins provided for by the exchange-rate mechanism on the European
Monetary system. The
countries that reached those objectives could pass on to the third
phase. During this phase, in the European
Council held in December 1995 in Madrid, a definitive name
was given to the new European unique currency, the euro.
From 1 January 1999 to 1
January 2002. Establishment of a European
Central Bank (ECB), fixing of exchange rates and introduction of
a single currency. The so called Euroland, countries that went
through to the third phase in 1999, consisted of eleven countries:
Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France,
Germany, Austria, Ireland
and Finland. Four countries: Greece, United Kingdom, Denmark and
Sweden remained for different reasons out of Euro area.
Euro notes, the new European currency
of the Union instituted as one of the objectives of
the Union the search of social and economic cohesion among the diverse regions
and countries of the community. To achieve it, it was agreed that
a denominated Cohesion
Fund, created in 1994, would provide less developed regions and
countries with financial aid focused on sectors as environment or
infrastructures. The member States eligible to receive this aid were those
whose GDP per capita was inferior to 90% of the Union average and comply
criteria. The Cohesion countries were Spain, the most
benefited state, Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
The TEU has also meant a
noticeable advancement in the EU competences in fields as economic and monetary
policy, industrial policy, Transeuropean networks and transport policy, educational networks,
etc. In spite of this reforms, the common agricultural policy (CAP)
still absorbed more than a half of the whole Union budget.
As regards educational
affairs, the TEU limited the Union role to promote intergovernmental cooperation. The European Union
launched different programmes (Socrates, Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci) to
facilitate contacts and combined work among Euroepan students and
As far as the second pillar is
concerned, the Common
foreign and security policy (CFSP)
allows to undertake common actions in foreign policy. The European
Council, where decisions must be adopted unanimously, agrees the principles and general orientations of the CFSP.
The Treaty on European Union raised Western
European Union (WEU) to the rank of an integral part of the
development of the Union and commissioned it the mission of
elaborating and implementing decisions and actions with defence
The raw reality, in the form of the conflict
in former Yugoslavia (Croatia,
Bosnia, Kosovo) has shown that, unfortunately, the construction of a UE Common Foreign and Security Policy was
still a long term objective. USA and NATO went on being the main actors in
defence affairs, and the European States have still a very weak
political will and capacity to carry out their
slaughtered by Serbian troops in Kosovo
The third pillar is based on Police
and judicial cooperation (PJC) in criminal matters
as terrorism, illegal immigration, asylum policy, drugs traffic, international
The foundation of the Europol
(European Police Office), embryo of a future European police, was one of the most outstanding
changes in this sphere. It is also necessary to point out that in 1990 the denominated
Convention, that developed the Schengen
Agreement, was signed so as to build an European Union without frontiers.
ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht
ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht by the national
parliaments was brimmed with difficulties. The symbolic year of 1992 was
gloomed by three crisis that braked the pro-Europe impulse brought
about by the signing in Maastricht of the TUE on 7 February 1992:
Firstly, Europe went through a serious and deep economic crisis
that caused governments and public opinion to focus on economic problems,
seting aside the European construction;
Secondly, there were serious monetary tensions that
European Monetary System and the objective of the economic
and monetary union (EMU);
Thirdly, the EU appeared unable to implement a
foreign and security policy in the crisis of Yugoslavia, and kept
powerless observing how war came back to our continent after many years of peace.
In this conditions, the first ratification process
took place in Denmark. The NO to the Treaty of Maastricht won in a
referendum for a
scarce difference of 50.000 votes. A eurosceptical wave extended to
the other member countries. However, the ratifications of the Treaty were
place in the rest of the countries. In France, the YES won with a scarce 51.4% of the
votes in favour of the TEU.
Negotiation with Denmark started
and the Copenhague government was granted with a special protocol, known,
in the EU parlance, as opting out clause,
that is to say, the possibility of not following the other members when the third phase of the
EMU began -a similar clause got United Kingdom when TEU was signed- and in all
defence matters. On 20 May 1993, Danish people approved in a referendum this agreement with
53.8% of YES votes.
Celebrating the Treaty of Maastricht
of Maastricht came into force on 2 November 1993. The Treaty forsaw their own
future revision in view of the successive enlargements
of the Union.
The development of
the European Union (1993-1996) and the new enlargement to the "Europe
In Decembe 1994, the mandate of Jacques
Delors, as president
of the European Commission concluded. His substitute was the former
Luxembourg prime minister , Jacques Santer.
Jacques Santer, president of the European Commission
In spite of
the difficulties that the Union was going through and the dramatic transformation of the world in those years, the
candidatures to accesion to the EU continued being submitted to Brussels: Austria
in 1989, Malta and Cyprus in 1991, Finland, Norway and Switzerland in 1992.
This last country retired its candidature a few months later after a
Negotiations with Austria, Sweden, Finland and Norway began in
1993 and were quite easy due to the high economic development of those
countries. The ratification of the Treaties was accomplished in 1994.
However, Norwegian people rejected again the accession to the EU. The NO to the European Union
won in a referendum with 52.2% of the votes. It was the second time that
Norway refused to join the community.
On 1 January
1995, the fourth enlargement
of the EU took place with the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden. The
Europe of the Fifteen was born.
Europe of the Fifteen (1995)
In early 1996, in the European
Council of Turin, an Intergovernmental
Conference (IGC) commenced with the purpose of elaborating a new treaty that reformed the
Treaty of Maastricht. The objectives were focused on developing the
Europe of citizens, fomenting the EU role in international politics, reforming
the institutions and tackling a new enlargement to the the applicant countries of Central and Eastern Europe. After
a long and intricate negotiation, the member States governments reach an
agreement in the European
Council held in Amsterdam on 16-17 June 1997. The Treaty
of Amsterdam was born.