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Summaries of EU Legislation

Treaty of Maastricht on European Union

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Treaty of Maastricht on European Union

 

SUMMARY OF:

The Treaty on European Union

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE TREATY?

  • Maastricht is an ambitious treaty. It creates the European Union. This encompasses 3 separate strands (so-called pillars):
  • Among its most prominent innovations, the treaty:

KEY POINTS

European Communities (1st pillar)

This groups the traditional activities, working and decision-making procedures of the 3 original EU organisations:

Common foreign and security policy (2nd pillar)

This aims to:

  • safeguard the EU’s common values, fundamental interests and independence;
  • strengthen the security of the EU and its member countries;
  • preserve peace and international security in line with United Nations’ principles;
  • promote international cooperation;
  • develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Cooperation on justice and home affairs (3rd pillar)

This aims to provide the public with a high level of safety by:

Economic and monetary union

EU countries must:

Common currency (euro)

This:

  • is introduced in 3 stages:
  • sets out criteria on inflation, levels of public debt, interest rates and exchange rates countries must meet before adopting the euro;
  • provides an opt out for the UK from the 3rd stage and subjects Danish participation to a national referendum.

New policies

The EU is given responsiblity for:

Social protocol

  • This extends EU responsibility to:
    • promote employment;
    • improve living and working conditions;
    • provide adequate social protection;
    • conduct a social dialogue;
    • develop human resources to ensure a high and sustainable level of employment;
    • integrate people excluded from the labour market.
  • The UK has an opt out from the social protocol.

European citizenship

This gives every national of an EU country the right to:

Institutional changes

These include:

  • increased legislative powers for the European Parliament;
  • more majority voting when EU governments adopt legislation;
  • creation of a Committee of the Regions;
  • application of the subsidiarity principle, whereby the EU will only act if this is more effective at the EU rather than national level.

FROM WHEN DOES THE TREATY APPLY?

It was signed on 7 October 1992 and entered into force on 1 November 1993.

BACKGROUND

Officially known as the Treaty on European Union, the Maastricht Treaty marked the beginning of ‘a new stage in the process of creating an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe’ by giving the previous communities a political dimension.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Treaty on European Union (OJ C 191, 29.7.1992, pp. 1-112)

last update 21.03.2018

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