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The Maastricht Treaty (formally, the Treaty on European Union, TEU) was signed on 7 February 1992 in Maastrichtmarker, the Netherlandsmarker after final negotiations on 9 December 1991 between the members of the European Community and entered into force on 1 November 1993 during the Delors Commission. It created the European Union and led to the creation of the euro. The Maastricht Treaty has been amended to a degree by later treaties.


The signing of the Treaty

The treaty led to the creation of the euro currency, and created what is commonly referred to as the pillar structure of the European Union. This conception of the Union divides it into the European Community (EC) pillar, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar, and the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar. The latter two pillars are intergovernmental policy areas, where the power of member-states is at its greatest extent, whilst under the European Community pillar the Union's supra-national institutions — the Commission, the European Parliament and the Court of Justice — have the most power. All three pillars were the extensions of pre-existing policy structures. The European Community pillar was the continuation of the European Economic Community with the "Economic" being dropped from the name to represent the wider policy base given by the Maastricht Treaty. Coordination in foreign policy had taken place since the beginning of the 1970s under the name of European Political Cooperation (EPC), which had been written into the treaties by the Single European Act but not as a part of the EEC. While the Justice and Home Affairs pillar extended cooperation in law enforcement, criminal justice, asylum, and immigration and judicial cooperation in civil matters, some of these areas had already been subject to intergovernmental cooperation under the Schengen Implementation Convention of 1990.

The creation of the pillar system was the result of the desire by many member states to extend the European Economic Community to the areas of foreign policy, military, criminal justice, judicial cooperation, and the misgiving of other member states, notably the United Kingdom, over adding areas which they considered to be too sensitive to be managed by the supra-national mechanisms of the European Economic Community. The compromise was that instead of renaming the European Economic Community as the European Union, the treaty would establish a legally separate European Union comprising the renamed European Economic Community, and the inter-governmental policy areas of foreign policy, military, criminal justice, judicial cooperation. The structure greatly limited the powers of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice to influence the new intergovernmental policy areas, which were to be contained with the second and third pillars: foreign policy and military matters (the CFSP pillar) and criminal justice and cooperation in civil matters (the JHA pillar).


The process of ratifying the treaty was fraught with difficulties in three states. Denmarkmarker first rejected the treaty on 2 June 1992 by fewer than 50,000 votes in a referendum. The treaty was ratified by Denmarkmarker on 18 May 1993 with the addition of the Edinburgh Agreement which lists four Danish exceptions. In September 1992, a referendum in France only narrowly supported the ratification of the treaty, with 51.05% in favour. In the United Kingdommarker, an opt-out from the treaty's social provisions was opposed in Parliamentmarker by the opposition Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs and the treaty itself by the Maastricht Rebels within the governing Conservative Party. The number of rebels exceeded the Conservative majority in the House of Commonsmarker, and thus the government of John Major came close to losing the confidence of the House.


  1. Major Driven to Confidence Factor - Independent Newspaper Article

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