Maastricht Treaty 1992 - History

Maastricht Treaty 1992 - History

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On February 7, 1992, the Maastricht Treaty was signed creating the European Union. The Union was a step towards greater integration from the previous Common Market.

In December 1991 negotiations began between the nations of the Common Market to extend the scope of their relationship beyond just economic trade. The new treaty extended that cooperation to a common foreign and defense policy while also creating cooperation in the Field of Justice and Home Affairs. The treaty further integrated the economic cooperation between the countries which led to the creation of a common currency the Euro.

The treaty was then submitted for ratification by the participating. Three counties were forced to hold referendums: Denmark, France and Ireland. In all three cases the treaty was eventually ratified by the narrowest margins.

Maastricht Treaty 1992 - History

The Treaty on European Union was signed in Maastricht in the presence of the President of the European Parliament, Egon Klepsch. In accordance with that Treaty the Union is founded on the European Communities (first pillar), with two additional areas of cooperation (second and third pillars): the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP) and Justice and Home Affairs (JHA).

Upon entry into force of the Treaty on European Union, the EEC becomes the European Community(EC).The EP's legislative and supervisory powers increase with the introduction of the codecision procedure and extension of the cooperation procedure.

Under the new Treaty the European Parliament has the right to invite the Commission to present a legislative proposal on matters which, in its view, call for a Community act to be drawn up. The entire Commission must also now be approved by the EP, which also appoints the European Ombudsman.

Free Movement in Europe: Past and Present

Citizens of the European Union are free to cross intra-European borders in search of work and education opportunities, a higher standard of living, or even a more desirable climate. Germans work in the finance sector in London and Luxembourg, young Lithuanians work in fast food restaurants in Ireland, Italians study in British universities, and Swedes retire in sunny Spain.

As an area of 27 countries with more than 500 million inhabitants, the European Union is currently the world’s best research laboratory on legal, transnational migration.

But how did such an area of free movement come about? Why did the sovereign states of Europe decide to give up one of the fundamental rights that defines a nation state — that of deciding who can cross its borders? And to what end?

This article provides a short overview of the history of the European free movement regime, and discusses how mobility in Europe has been promoted and utilized throughout the past 60 years, the EU enlargement into Central and Eastern Europe in 2004 and 2007 and its impact on intra-European migration, and the challenges facing governments in this new era of EU mobility.

Post-War Economic Growth and Free Mobility

Over the past 60 years, Europe has undergone a shift from a region of net emigration to one of net immigration. During this time, a progressive lessening of restrictions on labor mobility between certain European countries has taken place.

In a way, this opening up of borders is a return to the past. Prior to the start of World War I in 1914, there were virtually no border controls or restrictions to labor mobility across the continent. During the war, however, the crossing of borders by foreigners began to be considered a security concern, and it was at this time that passports and visas were introduced in Europe.

Then in the 1950s, when Europe was beginning to recover from the devastation of World War II and experiencing a period of intense economic growth, labor mobility was again encouraged. Because the lack of skilled workers was seen as a threat to the economy, freedom of movement of qualified industrial workers was included in the treaties founding the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor of the current European Union, in 1957.

Over 8 million work permits were issued to foreigners in Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany (the original six members of the EEC) during the guest-worker period of 1958 to 1972. One-third of the foreign workers came from within the EEC mainly from Italy, which was lagging behind in industrialization and suffered from high unemployment.

Workers were recruited through bilateral agreements from outside of Europe as well, especially to work in dirty, dangerous, and dull — the so-called 3D — jobs in the building, mining, and transportation sectors. Significant numbers of guest workers, for example, migrated from Turkey to Germany, from Algeria to France, and from the British Commonwealth countries to Britain.

The oil crisis that started in 1973 put an end to the open-doors policy regarding migrant workers, who were welcomed when the economy needed them but were expected to leave when times were hard. To the surprise of the host nations, however, most of the guest workers had come to stay. Moreover, many of these migrants had invited their families to join them in the destination countries, making family ties a more prominent cause for legal migration into Europe than active labor recruitment. This dilemma was neatly summarized by Swiss author Max Frisch: "We asked for workers, but human beings came."

Expanding Freedom of Movement: From Workers to Citizens

The right of free movement was initially intended for the economically active population: workers who were able to support themselves in the destination country. However, the texts of the founding treaties of the EEC, as well as the implementation of secondary legislation, left room for interpretation.

For years, European citizens have actively tested the boundaries of free mobility by challenging national administrative decisions in the European Court of Justice, which has played a fundamental role in widening the scope of free movement since the 1970s.

The rulings of the court since that time have gradually shifted policy from protecting primarily free movement of workers to the free movement of persons. In numerous individual cases, the court ruled that a Member State of the EEC could not deny entry to or deport a citizen of another EEC state on the basis of personal conduct unless that conduct would warrant equally punitive action if it were undertaken by a citizen of the former state.

The very definition of "worker" was also gradually expanded to include not only workers in industry, but those in seasonal or short-term employment and apprenticeship placements in Member States as well. Then in 1990, freedom of movement came to be guaranteed for students, pensioners, and the unemployed, as well as for their families.

The process of establishing freedom of movement for all nationals of Member States was finalized with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which created the European Union (EU) and introduced the concept of a common European citizenship.

As the process of encouraging migration and easing travel restrictions continued, emphasis was placed on reducing border control formalities within Europe. The Schengen Agreement, which first went into effect in 1995, created a common, essentially borderless area between Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain, wherein travel credentials were only required at the external borders of this area.

Two years later, the Schengen rules were incorporated into the Treaty of Amsterdam, and by 1999 European citizens were free to cross most intra-European borders without having to show their passports. As of this writing, the Schengen Area encompasses 25 European countries, three of which are not members of the European Union.

EU Expansion: The Mobility of Central and Eastern Europeans

In May 2004, the 15 states of the European Union (EU-15) welcomed ten new Member States in what was the largest expansion in the history of European integration.

The new Member States included eight countries (also called the A-8) from the other side of the former Iron Curtain: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which had still been part of the Soviet Union just 13 years earlier. At the same time, membership was granted to the island states of Cyprus and Malta.

The enlargement was the target of much controversy, as media estimates of the potential wave of economically motivated migration from the Central and Eastern European countries varied from 5 million to 40 million people. The rate of migration was estimated to be high because differences in income and the standard of living between the new Member States and the EU-15 were large: in 2003, the average wage in Latvia — the poorest among the new Member States — was just one-eighth of the average wage in the EU-15.

Although previous enlargements of the European Union had not resulted in major outflows of workers from new Member States, this time was thought to be different. It was feared that unlimited labor migration from the A-8 would cause serious problems for the labor markets of the EU-15. Similar fears related to wage dumping and potential "welfare tourism" to the EU-15 were expressed again when Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union in 2007.

During the accession negotiations, a transitional period of seven years was established so that each old Member State could determine when it was ready to open its borders to workers from the new Member States. The transitional measures were based on a "2+3+2 model," where the restrictions on labor market entry of new citizens had to be reviewed after two years, and again three years later. A final two-year phase of restrictions was permitted only in cases of serious disturbances within the individual labor markets of the EU-15. (The restrictions did not apply to the citizens of Cyprus and Malta.)

Free movement between all Member States was thus to be guaranteed by May 2011 at the latest for the citizens of the countries that joined in 2004, and by January 2014 for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania.

Only three Member States — Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom — decided to open their borders immediately, the former two mainly because their growing and relatively open economies needed labor, and the latter because its regulated labor market was believed to be able to maintain wages at the collectively agreed upon levels.

Moreover, immigration at that time was not perceived as such a significant threat in these countries, as opposed to in France, for example, where a fictional character named the "Polish Plumber" was used to fuel fears on how skilled French workers were soon to be replaced by a flood of Eastern Europeans willing to work for less.

Around 70 percent of migrants from the A-8 have since headed for Ireland and the United Kingdom. Migrants from Bulgaria and Romania, on the other hand, have mostly chosen to go to Italy and Spain.

After the 2004 expansion, Poland was the source of the largest number of migrant workers among all new Member States. In fact, the number of Poles "temporarily residing" in another EU Member State more than doubled between 2004 and 2007, peaking at around 2 million — at that time a remarkable 5.3 percent of the country’s total population of 38 million. Lithuania, however, had the largest number of outgoing migrants relative to the size of its labor force, and some areas of the country have suffered from at least a temporary, yet very visible, youth drain.

In general, the unique histories, cultures, economic situations, and government policies in each new Member State seem to have influenced the number of outgoing migrants. For some countries, joining the European Union did not significantly increase outward migration. Hungary, where regional mobility within the country itself and interest in working abroad has been traditionally low, is one such case.

Despite the transitional measures adopted by some countries — Austria and Germany, the only two old Member States that chose to limit the entry of A-8 workers until May 2011, in particular — and the other various restrictions on labor market access that were put in place, workers from the new Member States in temporary, self-employment, or informal-sector positions retained their mobility.

Visa restrictions for citizens from Eastern European countries planning travel to the EU-15 had been lifted in 2001, so de facto labor mobility was already taking place before the new Member States officially joined the European Union and well before the transitional periods were over. Evidence of this fact comes from the Worker Registration Scheme implemented by the United Kingdom as a measure to monitor post-enlargement migrants. In the six months following the May 2004 enlargement, about 30 percent of the applications to the Scheme came from people who had already been living in the United Kingdom prior to the enlargement.

Intra-European Migrants

As the transitional period limiting free movement from Bulgaria and Romania comes to an end by January 2014, Europe will form an area where citizens from 31 countries — the 27 countries of the European Union (EU-27) plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland — can live, study, or work anywhere they wish. Crossing borders within this area has been made incredibly simple by policy, technology, the travel industry, and globalization.

But this reality presents a key problem for those studying European mobility: many forms of cross-border movement within this area remain uncounted by official statistics. European citizens cross borders unregistered, often remain essentially invisible in their destination countries, and are counted differently depending on their countries of origin and destination. In the United Kingdom, for example, the measurement of immigration relies mainly on the number of residents who were born abroad, while in other countries, such as Germany, it is determined by the number of residents who are not national citizens.

Statistics of emigrants are not clear cut either: Austrians are categorized as emigrants when they leave their country for more than three months, Belgians after six months, Finns if they intend to stay abroad for more than a year, and Poles and Romanians only if they indicate that they are leaving for good.

Due to the high degree of variance in policy across countries, citizenship is also not a reliable way to account for mobility. Belgium, for instance, requires three years of residence before citizenship can be granted, while Austria demands a minimum stay of ten years. Children born to foreign citizens are foreigners themselves in some countries, such as in Sweden and Finland, but can automatically become citizens of their country of birth in others, such as in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

For these reasons, statistics on how many intra-European migrants live in any particular Member State at any given time must be taken with a grain of salt. There are, however, some informative and relevant data.

The Overall Size of the Population

In Eurobarometer surveys, freedom of movement within the EU-27 is often seen as the best achievement of the European Union, ranking above the euro, economic prosperity, or even peace. Yet, to the disappointment of the European Commission, which is concerned about economic growth and labor flexibility, European citizens have been rather slow in utilizing this right.

Within the EU-15, levels of intra-European mobility have stayed relatively stable. The majority of foreign workers have continued to come from outside the European Union, and the share of mobile EU nationals has remained lower than it had been during the days of the guest-worker era of the 1960s.

In 2000, about 5.1 percent of the total EU-15 population, or 19 million people, lived in a country of which they were not a citizen. The majority of these foreign citizens lived in Germany (37.0 percent), France (18.4 percent), and the United Kingdom (10.2 percent). Only about 6 million of the foreign citizens (1.6 percent) living in the European Union in 2000 were nationals of another EU Member State, and the majority of them also lived in Germany (1.9 million), France (1.2 million), and the United Kingdom (860,000).

According to EUROSTAT, the statistical office of the European Union, 31.9 million foreign citizens lived in the EU-27 in 2009, comprising 6.4 percent of the total EU-27 population. About one-third, or 11.9 million, were citizens of another EU-27 Member State.

The effects of the eastward enlargements of 2004 and 2007 are visible, not only in the overall figures for 2009, but also when it is considered that the two largest national groups in the EU mobile population were those of Romania (2.0 million EU migrants) and Poland (1.5 million EU migrants). Together, these two groups accounted for 11 percent of all foreign citizens living in the EU-27 in 2009. Turkey, a candidate for future EU membership, had the largest share of migrants living within the EU-27 when compared with all non-EU and EU countries (2.4 million).

The proportion of foreign citizens living in each country varied from less than 1 percent in Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria to 44 percent in Luxembourg. In terms of numbers, Germany, again, hosted the largest share of foreign nationals in the EU-27 (2.5 million) followed by Spain (2.3 million), the United Kingdom (1.6 million), France (1.3 million), and Italy (1.1 million).

Characteristics of Intra-European Migrants in the EU-15

The most extensive effort undertaken so far to understand intra-EU migration was the Pioneers of European Integration (PIONEUR) research project, which took place between 2003 and 2006.

The project targeted movers between the five most populous EU-15 Member States — Germany, France, Britain, Italy, and Spain — and used the European Internal Movers Social Survey (EIMSS) in 2004 to collect information on the experiences of nearly 5,000 Europeans who had moved from one of these countries to another. Because intra-European migrants are not easily traced from population registers, the survey used an objective name-based telephone directory sampling technique to reach this population.

The survey revealed four general migrant types in the EU-15: late-traditional migrants who continue the old south-north labor migration patterns, retirement migrants who move from north to south, middle-aged preretirement migrants, and a class of highly mobile young European professionals.

For the Europeans of the EIMSS survey, economic considerations or differences in wage levels were not as prominent of motives for moving as traditional economic theories of migration might suggest. In fact, the most common reasons stated for mobility were related to love and family: "to live with partner/spouse/children" got the absolute highest share of responses at 29.7 percent. The second-most important reasons were related to lifestyle and the environment: "to live in a better natural environment" garnered 15.7 percent of responses, followed by "to live in better/healthier weather, enjoy climate" with 13.5 percent. Among the economic or work-related motivations for moving, "to accept a job offer" got the highest share of responses at 15.2 percent.

The PIONEUR project revealed that European migration, at least between the EU-15, has changed over the years from mainly involving less skilled economic migrants in blue-collar occupations towards the mobility of the educated and highly skilled, who often come from upper- or upper-middle-class families.

When the free movement regime was initiated 60 years ago, it was intended to encourage blue-collar workers to cross borders for temporary employment in the industrial sector. Now, a wide variety of Europeans utilize this right.

In 2009, Eurobarometer surveyed 27,000 individuals from the EU-27 on their mobility experiences and intentions. The report, released in 2010, indicates that EU citizens from the more recently incorporated Member States are more likely to be motivated to work abroad and choose their country of destination based on economic considerations, while those from the EU-15 are more likely to consider lifestyle and cultural factors in their decisions to migrate. These findings reinforce the EIMSS survey findings from about five years earlier.

It seems that, at least for now, two diverging mobility patterns coexist in the current European context, and that these two groups are frequently viewed in somewhat different terms based on the reasons for their migration: more affluent EU-15 migrants are often described as "mobile Europeans," while those coming from the new Member States are referred to as "immigrants," and may face discrimination regardless of their EU-citizenship status.

Member State governments, for example, struggle with finding ways to manage public frustration related to the Roma population in a way that is compatible with EU legislation and universal human rights.

Thousands of Roma, pushed from Romania, Bulgaria, and other countries of Eastern Europe by poverty and discrimination, live in illegal camps at the outskirts of large Western and Northern European cities. In the summer of 2010, France caused an international outcry by dismantling numerous Roma settlements and expelling those who occupied them, despite the fact these individuals were EU citizens with the protected right of free mobility.

But Europeans are not the only population that utilizes the right to free movement within Europe. Once within the borders of the European Union and the Schengen area, third-country nationals also benefit from free mobility in practice — regardless of whether they have permission to legally reside or work in other countries — because of the lack of internal border checks. The implications of this reality, together with the contemporary challenges facing Europe's external borders, have placed significant stress on free movement.

Greece's recent border security travails and the concern on the part of some Member States that Bulgaria and Romania will become porous entry points into the European Union once they join the Schengen area are ready examples of such challenges. In addition, the recent uprisings in North Africa and the subsequent arrival of migrants from conflict-embroiled countries to Italy and Malta have fueled the debate surrounding free mobility, and have led some governments to question the fairness of a system that allows countries situated at the external boundaries of Europe to bear the brunt of border-control responsibilities.

Free mobility and the Schengen system are not static concepts, and the relationships upon which they are predicated will continue to evolve. While not likely to impinge on the overarching principle and practice of freedom of movement within Europe, it is possible that contemporary developments will continue to test solidarity and trust between Member States.

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3. Challenges and Controversies

World War II put a definitive end to European dominance of the world, and Europeans came to realize many of their own weaknesses. The two new superpowers of the world (the United States and the Soviet Union) were extremely superior to European nations economically, politically, and militarily. The USA promoted a centralized European organization that could organize the delivery of the resources of the Marshall Plan (meant to restore and rebuild war-torn Europe). Towards this goal, the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) was established in 1948, which became the first institution that fostered Western European cooperation in important multilateral areas. The constitution of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meant that now European countries would be fighting together against a common Communist enemy instead of amongst themselves.

Why is the Maastricht Treaty considered to be so significant?

Today, we can say that the Lisbon Treaty is the most important document in the European Union (EU). It is the newest treaty, the most up to date, and it dictates how European institutions work. However, previous treaties should not be considered as less important. If we think about the evolution of the EU and how it came into existence, it could be said that every treaty shares credit for what happened. Yet, certain treaties have had more impact on European integration than others. The Treaty on European Union (TEU), signed in Maastricht, was one of the most important agreements in the EU’s history. Indeed, not only did it reform the structure of the European Community (EC) through the establishment of a political union, and strengthen economic integration with the creation of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), but it also enabled the stabilisation of political tensions within Europe at the end of the Cold War, and integrated a unified Germany into the EU. As a result of this treaty the EC could not be called as such anymore, and from that point on it had to be referred to as the European Union. With the Maastricht Treaty, the EC took a step forward in European integration and in uniting its member states. Nonetheless, even if governments were very enthusiastic about it, public opinion was very much concerned about where this integration would eventually lead, thus making the ratification of the treaty more difficult. This essay will focus first on what the TEU actually says, and on the major innovations of the treaty. Then, it will study the effects it had on, as well as the reaction of the member states and will determine why the ratification process was so long. Finally, we will try to understand why the treaty was so important for the EC, and what the catalysts were that brought together the member states to agree upon the Maastricht Treaty.

The principal change of the treaty, which brought about all the other innovations to follow, was the ‘three pillars’ structure of the EU organisation. The 3 pillars consist of the Single European Act (SEA), the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and the Justice and Home Affairs. Therefore, within this structure emerged a new political union, through the second and third pillar, and a monetary union, through the first pillar (Europa, 2007). The particularity of this organisation is that even if each pillar was designed to be independent from one another, “bridges” could be made, (Best in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994a: 28) as the action of one community would generate issues in another. For instance, because of the creation of a Single European Market (SEM) borders had to be opened, and as a consequence visa policy throughout the EU zone had to be changed (ibid). Concerning decision making, the EC would remain supranational and communautaire, implying that member states would only play a secondary role, while the other two would stay on an intergovernmental level (ibid: 19). However, a significant difference between the SEA and Maastricht was that the European Parliament gained power over member states, especially from 1992 onwards, as it would “adopt acts in conjunction with the Council” (Europa, 2007). This was very important because it meant that the Parliament would be playing a direct role in European legislation and would have both the power to negotiate with and “say a definitive ‘no’ to the Council” (Vanhoonacker in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994: 3 Best in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994a: 33).

Therefore, one of the major innovations which the TEU brought with its three pillars structure was the establishment of a political union. There had already been some agreements on social policies after the SEA, but integration was more focused on the economic aspect of European cooperation. Before the TEU, one of the only forms of political unity that existed was the European Political Cooperation, which was mainly foreign policy related and consisted of “mutual information and consultation.” The Twelve, the member states at the time, would agree on adopting “common position” concerning events in the world (Best in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994a: 19). However, it was quite difficult for them to find common ground for agreement, especially with the Yugoslavia crisis of 1990, for instance. First, the states could not agree on the whole situation and on what measures had to be taken in order to prevent a break-up. Second, when the break-up finally happened, the member states could not agree on whether the new states should be recognised. Hence, serious questions emerged on the unity of these European countries and many people wondered if the CFSP would actually work (Vanhoonacker in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994: 7). Of course, it was eventually implemented during the creation of the Maastricht Treaty, and it was a way for the newly born EU to show that member states could cooperate because they had common interests in doing so, those of the union (Best in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994a: 37).

Moreover, concerning social policies “Member States had already been cooperating in different forms,” (ibid: 39) mainly because of the SEA which had already defined common standards for the “health and safety of workers” (ibid: 32). Nevertheless, one of the treaty’s aims was to develop a bigger social dimension for the EU. Thus, it introduced extended cooperation between member states with more involved participation of the European legislative regarding social issues such as education, employment, or labour (ibid). Furthermore, a special citizenship for people of each member state was brought forward by the treaty. It did not only increase the social dimension of the union, but also developed a new political comprehensiveness because the EU was now acknowledging the fact that it was one entity which was formed by and worked for the citizens, rather than a body composed of different states driven by their national interests.

Another significant development of the EU that was brought by the TEU was the establishment of the Economic and Monetary Union. It was considered as “the strongest form” and the last step towards full economic integration (Healey, 1995: 7). Many agreements had been reached after the SEA that noted further cooperation would be needed. The plan that had already emerged in the 1980s was known as the 1992 project. The idea was to essentially have a Single European Market, where all trade barriers would be dropped, and where it “must lead to a more unified Community” (Delors in Cecchini, Catinat and Jacquemin, 1988: xi). The objective of this plan was to develop more efficient trade and boost growth and development within the EC (Baun, 1995: 608). Many agreements had already been made in the years before 1992, the Maastricht Treaty just made these commitments “legally binding” (Best in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994a: 28). Hence, the declarations made in the TEU were “more a matter of legitimation than of innovation,” (ibid) but it would be the final touch for the single market (Europa, 2007). Therefore, with the union in the 1990s, economic integration would take the road of no-return. The consequences of a SEM and of the formation of a single currency would be irreversible actions for the EU (ibid: 17). What makes the EMU so significant today is the knowledge that each member state in 1992 realised that they would enter a permanent situation in which European integration would drive their policies, and that decisions taken during the writing of the treaty would be irrevocable no state would possibly be able to go back to its previous relative economic and political independence after ratification, yet they still agreed to it.

Amongst all the theories that explain European integration, neofunctionalism is quite relevant in explaining why the Maastricht was created. Indeed, neofunctionalists consider political integration and the creation of a monetary union as “inevitable outgrowth” or a spill-over of economic integration (Baun, 1995: 606). Their main belief is that through slow and gradual economic cooperation, European integration will follow. First, because this cooperation cannot happen if integration does not exist, Jacques Delores, the President of the Commission at the time, said that “without a new treaty, it would not be possible to make any significant progress” towards the EMU, (European NAvigator, n.d.) thus making the statement that for further integration, other forms of integration had to be achieved. Second, integration will develop and reach a point where any state involved in the integration process cannot decide to abandon it, because that process is too interlinked with national policies (McCormick, 2008: 9). Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor, stated that “monetary and political union were not separable but were instead two sides of the same coin” (Baun, 1995: 621). Therefore, the Maastricht Treaty had to happen eventually because of increased integration.

What happened after the TEU was written was very unexpected. It would have been sensible to think that the ratification process should have gone smoothly, given the good public opinion in the 1980s about the 1992 project, and the enthusiastic commitment of national governments to the EC. Nonetheless, the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty lasted almost two years and turned out to be quite a difficult process with many obstacles (Vanhoonacker in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994: 3). First of all, the economic crises that hit Europe between 1992 and 1993 hindered the development of the EMU, as currencies devalued one by one which led to a partial collapse of the Exchange Rate Mechanism. Stagflation followed throughout the EC and the “economic problems had a negative effect on popular support for further European integration” (Vanhoonacker in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994: 6).

One of the major blows to ratification was the Danish ‘no’ on their TEU referendum. It caused “a shock-wave throughout Europe,” (ibid: 5) as citizens in other states began to question and criticise the EC and its development. Once it was clear that people from Denmark were against the treaty opposition grew stronger in other countries. For instance, in France, President Mitterrand decided to call a ratification referendum, which only passed with a slight majority of 51%. Certain governments, such as that of the UK, took this opportunity to bargain and get what they wanted from the treaty. Out of the Twelve, four member states have been through major troubles because the ratification process had been “politically controversial” for them, these were Denmark, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany (Laursen in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994: 295). Spain has been an issue as well, but the protests were minor compared to what occurred in other countries.

One of the main reasons why the Danish said ‘no’ to the treaty was because of European citizenship. Many people in the member states were afraid that the establishment of such a citizenship would impede their national one, causing a debate on national identity. However, that would not have happened if national governments had been more communicative about the treaty. It was not a problem of transparency, but rather of comprehension. The wording of such treaties is usually very complex and a majority of citizens could not understand it, as was the case in 1992. This is why governments launched campaigns that explained the content of the TEU in a language that normal people could assimilate (Vanhoonacker in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994: 5). Nevertheless, it was not just an issue of misunderstanding, citizens were also genuinely concerned about the changes brought about by the Maastricht Treaty. After the referendum in France, the government had to confront serious issues as only little more than half of the population agreed with its decisions regarding the EU, and it had “serious questions as to popular support for a further deepening of European integration” (ibid: 6). In southern Europe, the Spanish were “facing unemployment rate of more than 20%,” so they truly doubted the capacity of the EC to be beneficial to Spain (ibid). As for the Germans, they were wary about losing their national currency and replacing it with a European currency (ibid: 5). The Danish, French, and all others eventually surrendered to the Maastricht Treaty, but public opinion is still an extremely important issue, as opposition parties grow stronger every year within the EU.

On a governmental level, national parliaments, especially the British one, and other national bodies, such as the Bundesbank in Germany, were very troubled. Indeed, both were exceedingly concerned with their sovereignty. First, the UK had been opposed to certain ideas of the TEU a while before ratification. It was mainly the Conservative party, with Thatcher and Major as Prime Ministers, which caused problems. It absolutely refused the third stage of the EMU, which was that of substituting its national currency with a common one, and this measure was seen by British right wing politicians as “a ‘conveyor belt to federalism’ and the definitive abandonment of national sovereignty” (Best in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994b: 256). Furthermore, when Major came into power in the early 1990s, he was ready to cooperate with other member states regarding the CFSP, but he also wanted a certain leeway of independence, he said that “Where we can act together we will do so. Where we need to act on our own, we must be able to do so” (Major quoted in Best in Laursen and Vanhoonacker, 1994b: 255). Second, the Bundesbank in Germany gained power over the EC through the European Monetary System (EMS) because Germany was the biggest economy. Thus, it was unsatisfied because if the EMU was established it would lose sovereignty over its monetary policies and would have to take orders from the European Central Bank (Baun, 1995 607).

The issues that occurred during the ratification process were to some extent consequences of previous problems seen in the EC in the late 1980’s. Take for example the Bundesbank, it was willing to delay any plans for the EMU because it had already been “forced to accept against its strong disapproval rapid German monetary union,” and it felt it was losing control over Germany’s monetary stability (ibid: 617). The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was a critical turning point for the world system as it announced the end of Cold War, but it was also an important event for the EC because it implied German unification, and a possible resurgent German threat. These logically had some consequences which created some issues in Europe that correlated to some extent. After the end of the Cold War the international economy and system changed drastically, and Europe did not know where it stood, but it definitely knew that it wanted to have an important and active role on the global stage (ibid: 605). However, that could only be possible through further integration of the EC. Though, that was not the major reason why the Maastricht Treaty was founded.

Since German unification was not debatable for Kohl, Chancellor of the FRG in 1989, it created high tensions within the EC because member states feared a renewal of German power and independence, which would force the country to draw back from the community (ibid: 609). Consequently, Franco-German relationships at the time suffered from a great loss of trust. Member states sought for an immediate deepening of integration because they did not trust Germany’s commitment to the EC. For Delors, significant steps to further integration were “the only satisfactory and acceptable response to the German question” (quoted in Baun, 1995: 609). Only the UK was against the idea, it believed that enlargement was the best thing to do as it would democratise Eastern Europe, while integration would strengthen Germany’s place in the EC (Baun, 1995: 610). France feared its loss of power over Germany and the only way to secure its influence was a significant increase in European integration, so it was mainly concerned about the role it would have in the EC once Germany became unified (ibid). Kohl was willing to prove to member states that a unified Germany was still a Germany committed to the EC, and that he was “in favor of deepening the EC.” He even stressed that unification and integration could go hand-in-hand and that they were “mutually reinforcing processes” (ibid: 610-611).

Therefore, under these circumstances the Treaty of Maastricht became a political bargaining game, principally between France and Germany, as each “viewed the agreement as a means of securing vital national interests” (ibid: 606). The Franco-German tensions decreased when an agreement was reached between both states that political integration would be discussed at the Intergovernmental Conference of 1992. However, some compromises had to be made. Kohl had to withdraw some of his ideas on political union, as that of a powerful European Parliament, in order to have the French government recognise the new states created by the break-up of Yugoslavia (ibid: 621). The fact that tension had arisen between France and Germany in the years preceding the TEU had been a shock for the EC as they were considered “the primary motor of European integration” (ibid: 619). Hence, when Mitterrand and Kohl jointly proposed an acceleration of the development of the monetary union and “called for new initiatives on political union,” it was a relief for the whole community and “of great symbolic importance” (ibid: 615, 619). From 1990 to 1992, there was a “close collaboration of the French and German governments to ensure that” the community survived and strengthened through the TEU, and that could only be explained by “the considerable political and symbolic importance attached to the treaty” (ibid: 623).

In conclusion, the Maastricht Treaty was not only significant because of what was in it the establishment of a political union and the EMU through a new ‘three pillars’ structure of the EU, but also because it made European citizens realise what was actually happening between countries. Furthermore, the fact that public opinion was so involved in the process of ratification shows how it was a big a step for every single person in the EC, politician or manual worker. Nonetheless, as Baun argues, “the Maastricht Treaty was essentially a political response by the EC and its member countries to German unification and the end of the cold war” (ibid). The drastic changes that the end of the Cold War brought caused the EC to develop a new treaty in order to adapt itself to this new world, but mainly to adapt itself to the reunification of Germany. However, the TEU was also a political instrument for Kohl who needed an excuse to substitute the Deutschmark hence the treaty helped him show his people that by signing it Germany had a substantial role in the EU and that to some extent its power and sovereignty were enhanced by it.

Best, E. (1994a) ‘The Treaty on European Union: What does it actually say and do?’ in Laursen, F. And Vanhoonacker, S. (eds.) The Ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, London: Martinus Nijhoff Publisher.

Best, E. (1994b) ‘The United Kingdom and the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty’ in Laursen, F. And Vanhoonacker, S. (eds.) The Ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, London: Martinus Nijhoff Publisher.

Delors, J. (1988) ‘A Common Objective’ in Cecchini, P., Catinat, M. And Jacquemin, A. The European Challenge 1992: the Benefits of a Single Market, Aldershot: Wildwood House.

European NAvigator (n.d.) ‘The Treaty of Maastricht’ [online], European NAvigator. Available at: Accessed on: 15 November 2010.

Healey, N.M. (1995) Economics of the New Europe: from Community to Union, London: Routledge.

Laursen, F. (1994) ‘The not-so-permissive consensus: thoughts on the Maastricht Treaty and the future of European integration’ in Laursen, F. And Vanhoonacker, S. (eds.) The Ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, London: Martinus Nijhoff Publisher.

McCormick, J. (2008) Understanding the European Union, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Vanhoonacker, S. (1994) ‘From Maastricht to Karlsruhe: the Long Road to Ratification’ in Laursen, F. And Vanhoonacker, S. (eds.) The Ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, London: Martinus Nijhoff Publisher.

Written by: Morgane Griveaud
Written at: Royal Holloway, University of London
Written for: Dr Alister Miskimmon
Date written: December 2010

History of the Stability and Growth Pact

The Stability and Growth Pact has evolved significantly along with the EU’s economic governance rules.

SGP Flexibility
The Commission issues guidance on how it will apply the SGP rules to strengthen the link between structural reforms, investment and fiscal responsibility in support of jobs and growth.

SGP review
A review of the ‘Six Pack’ and ‘Two Pack’ rules, which was called for in the legislation, determined that the legislation had contributed to the progress of fiscal consolidation in the EU. The review highlighted some strengths as well as possible areas for improvement, which will be discussed with the European Parliament and Member States.

Fiscal Compact
The importance of the budgetary targets set by the SGP’s Preventive Arm (the Medium-Term Objectives), are strengthened by a law known as the ‘Fiscal Compact’, which is part of an inter-governmental treaty, the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG).

Two Pack
Adherence to the SGP is further strengthened by new laws, known as the ‘Two Pack,’ which reinforces economic coordination between Member States and introduces new monitoring tools. Further details on the implementation of the ‘Two Pack’ provisions are laid down in ‘Code of Conduct’ (last revised in November 2014).

Six Pack
The SGP is made more comprehensive and predictable with a major enhancement of the EU’s economic governance rules through a collection of new laws, known as the ‘Six Pack’. The monitoring of both budgetary and economic policies is organised under the European Semester and further details on the implementation of the SGP’s rules are laid down in a ‘Code of Conduct’ (last revised in September 2012).

SGP amendment
EU lawmakers amend the SGP to allow it to better consider individual national circumstances and to add more economic rationale to the rules to be complied with.

Corrective rules
The SGP’s corrective rules enter into force.

Preventive rules
The SGP’s preventive rules enter into force.

Stability and Growth Pact
EU Member States agree to strengthen the monitoring and coordination of national fiscal and economic policies to enforce the deficit and debt limits established by the Maastricht Treaty. The Stability and Growth Pact is born.

Maastricht Treaty signed
EU Member States sign the Maastricht Treaty, paving the way for the creation of the euro as the common currency of the EU. The treaty limits government deficits to 3 % of GDP and public debt levels to 60 %, so as to enable countries to share a single currency

European Union goes into effect

The Maastricht Treaty comes into effect, formally establishing the European Union (EU). The treaty was drafted in 1991 by delegates from the European Community meeting at Maastricht in the Netherlands and signed in 1992. The agreement called for a strengthened European parliament, the creation of a central European bank, and common foreign and security policies. The treaty also laid the groundwork for the establishment of a single European currency, to be known as the 𠇎uro.”

By 1993, 12 nations had ratified the Maastricht Treaty on European Union: Great Britain, France, Germany, the Irish Republic, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Austria, Finland, and Sweden became members of the EU in 1995. After suffering through centuries of bloody conflict, the nations of Western Europe were finally united in the spirit of economic cooperation.

In 2016, in what became known as "Brexit," the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. 

The single market and its four freedoms are established: the free movement of goods, services, people and money is now a reality. More than 200 laws have been agreed since 1986 covering tax policy, business regulations, professional qualifications and other barriers to open frontiers. The free movement of some services is delayed.

Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU. The 15 members now cover almost the whole of western Europe.

Member States: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain and Portugal.

New Member States: Austria, Finland and Sweden.

Amsterdam Treaty, Nice and the Constitution for Europe

The Amsterdam Treaty amended and updated the other Treaties, and made a number of politically significant changes, particularly in the areas of fundamental rights, employment, and the free movement of persons.

A month after the Treaty of Amsterdam had come into force the Treaty of Nice was being negotiated. The pure purpose of the Nice Treaty was to prepare for enlargement, and to deal with the "Amsterdam leftovers". This was primarily concerned with changing the structure and decision making processes, to allow for the fact that the EU was now going to be an EU of 25 rather than 6, and it was no longer practical to carry on using the same systems that had been in place since the Treaty of Rome.

The Amsterdam Treaty introduced a consolidated version of the Community Treaties. The consolidated versions are linked below, and include the changes introduced by the Treaty of Nice.

The next proposed EU Treaty was the Constitution for Europe. The version put forward suggested one model for the future of Europe, which was rejected by the French and Dutch voters.

Maastricht History Facts and Timeline

Maastricht was founded in 50 BC as a Roman colony. Roman forces were, no doubt, drawn by its strategic location on the banks of the River Maas. They quickly built a military camp on either bank and named the settlement Mosae Trajectum.

A castle was constructed to defend the settlement, while a bridge was built over the river on the orders of Emperor Augustus. The bridge allowed trade to take place more easily between France and Germany.

Maastricht appears to have had considerable religious significance during its early history. By the 4th century AD, Christianity had taken hold here. The first church and religious community were founded by St. Servaas. Maastricht was also a bustling commercial city, with its bridge still playing a vital part in trade.

Rise to Prosperity

In 1220, Maastricht was granted the right to call itself a township. Ruled over by the Duke of Brabant and also the Prince Bishop of Liege, it is fair to say that this wasn't an easy alliance.

Maastricht rose to the peak of its prosperity in the 16th century. The city attracted craftsmen, particularly those who worked in precious metals. At that time, the Netherlands was ruled by the Spanish.

Spanish rule wasn't always popular, particularly in Maastricht. In 1576, the city rebelled against its masters. The revolt failed, however, and it wasn't until 1632 that Maastricht managed to free itself, returning to Dutch rule. Frederik Hendrik, the sovereign Prince of Orange, brought in a whole new era of political stability. More importantly, the new regime encouraged a greater degree of religious tolerance. Peaceful it may have been, but the city masters still upgraded its defences, just in case.

History of Modern Times

In the early 19th century, political boundaries were redrawn and a new state brought together Holland and Belgium. It was intended to act as a defence against neighbouring powers. By 1830, the union had disintegrated. Whilst Maastricht should technically have remained part of Belgium, it decided to stay loyal to Holland under the Dutch Royal House of Orange.

In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution came to Maastricht. The city became known for its pottery factory under Petrus Dominicus Laurentius Regout, whilst also being associated with its plentiful paper mills. The speed with which the city grew was boosted with the arrival of the railway.

Maastricht's neutrality during World War One meant that the effects of war were perhaps less severely felt here. However, the city still suffered. Floods of refugees came in search of homes and food. During World War Two, Maastricht was occupied by German forces - they stayed until 1944. In the post-war era, the city entered a new period in its history. This was a time when it could focus on restoring its historic buildings and build a new, more optimistic city.

In 1991, the city rose to prominence when it staged the European Summit and gave its name to a European Treaty. Today, Maastricht is a city that has something for everyone - a centre of learning, a place where manufacturing is still as strong as ever, and somewhere for visitors to enjoy a day out shopping.

Watch the video: Μάαστριχτ 1992, Τα ατέλειωτα γενέθλια: Επιφυλακτικοί βορειοευρωπαίοι και ευρωλάγνοι Έλληνες, Ep02 (August 2022).

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