Signed on February 7, 1992, the Maastricht Treaty led to the formation of the European Union (EU), and EU citizenship being offered to all member state citizens. Also, the treaty defines the geographies that EU citizens could travel for work and live freely sans having to put up with any country-related permits and restrictions. Maastricht, Netherlands is where the treaty was signed, reflecting the 12 countries green signal to integrate Europe’s economics and form the European Union. The treaty was rejected when first proposed in December 1991, to only be slightly modified in 1992 and brought into force on November 1, 1993.
Officially called the Treaty on European Union, the Maastricht Treaty introduced many pertinent amendments and additions to the Treaty of Rome. Its major features were incorporating the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) within the Treaty of Rome.
The primary legislative aspect of the treaty was relating to the progressive, stage-wise implementation of the EMU – as per which there was a strict timetable for the single currency adoption by EU members who’ve met the convergence criteria. There were three stages, and the third stage was about abolishing national currencies and adopting euro as official currency. The UK government participated up to the second stage, but opted out from the third stage. Denmark also chose to opt out of stage three. The UK also chose to opt out from another treaty section, known as the Social Chapter, which covered aspects such as workers’ safety and health, equal pay, workplace conditions, etc. However, it signed the chapter later on in 1997.
The treaty’s other features included expanding structural funds to aid poorer EU countries; broadening the ability of EU to encompass fresh areas such as public health, education, consumer rights, culture, Trans-European Networks (TEN), environment and industry, ombudsman or public advocate position creation, and formally introducing the concept of EU citizenship.
The Maastricht Treaty comprised three major pillars: European Community (EC), Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and the Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters (PJCCM). The first pillar, European Community, represents supranational cooperation. In other words, the member states relinquish a bit of their control over their internal affairs to work with other community members to attain shared objectives. Considered the European Union’s official agenda for foreign policy, CFSP (the second pillar) focusses on matters relating to commerce, trade, security and economic interactions with non-EU nations. The third pillar, PJCCM, takes care of law enforcement and preventing major crimes such as drugs, terrorism, human and arms trafficking, crimes against kids, and fraud and corruption within EU countries.
Maastricht Treaty Amendments
The Maastricht Treaty has been amended several times after its signing. The following are the treaties that caused those amendments:
- Treaty of Amsterdam (signed on October 2, 1997; effective as on May 1, 1999): The treaty reviewed Maastricht Treaty’s operations and proposed alterations in particular policy domains such as defense and security. It also laid the base necessary to expand the EU or facilitate inclusion of more countries into the union. And it also focused on highlighting EU’s direct concern areas such as crime and unemployment.
- Treaty of Nice (signed on February 26, 2001; effective as on February 1, 2003): The treaty devised a framework for expanding the EU.
- Treaty of Lisbon (signed on December 13, 2007; effective as on December 1, 2009): The treaty intended to streamline and simplify the institutions governing the EU.
The other treaties are:
- Treaty of Accession 1994 (signed on June 24, 1994; effective as on January 1, 1995): The treaty concerned accession of Austria, Finland, Norway and Sweden into the EU.
- Treaty of Accession 2003 (signed on April 16, 2003; effective as on May 1, 2004): The treaty was about the accession of 10 countries (Estonia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland and Slovakia) into the EU.
- Treaty of Accession 2005 (signed on April 25, 2005; effective as on January 1, 2007): This treaty dealt with the accession of Romania and Bulgaria into the EU.