Amsterdam Treaty

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Treaty of Amsterdam
Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty of the European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts
Type Amender of the TEU, the TEC, the TEAEC, and the TECSC
Signed 2 October 1997
Location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Effective 1 May 1999
Depositary The Italian Government
Treaty of Amsterdam at Wikisource
European Union
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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government
of the European Union

The Amsterdam Treaty, officially the Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty of the European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts, was signed on 2 October 1997, and entered into force on 1 May 1999;[1] it made substantial changes to the Treaty of Maastricht, which had been signed in 1992.

The Treaty of Amsterdam meant a greater emphasis on citizenship and the rights of individuals, an attempt to achieve more democracy in the shape of increased powers for the European Parliament, a new title on employment, a Community area of freedom, security and justice, the beginnings of a common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and the reform of the institutions in the run-up to enlargement.

Background[edit]

The treaty was the result of very long negotiations which began in Messina, Sicily on 2 June 1995, nearly forty years after the signing of the Treaties of Rome, and reached completion in Amsterdam on 18 June 1997. Following the formal signing of the Treaty on 2 October 1997, the Member States engaged in an equally long and complex ratification process. The European Parliament endorsed the Treaty on 19 November 1997, and after two referenda and 13 decisions by national parliaments, the Member States finally concluded the procedure.

Contents[edit]

Amsterdam comprises 13 Protocols, 51 Declarations adopted by the Conference and 8 Declarations by Member States plus amendments to the existing Treaties set out in 15 Articles. Article 1 (containing 16 paragraphs) amends the general provisions of the Treaty on European Union and covers the CFSP and cooperation in criminal and police matters. The next four Articles (70 paragraphs) amend the EC Treaty, the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty (which expired in 2002), the Euratom Treaty and the Act concerning the election of the European Parliament. The final provisions contain four Articles. The new Treaty also set out to simplify the Community Treaties, deleting more than 56 obsolete articles and renumbering the rest in order to make the whole more legible. By way of example, Article 189b on the codecision procedure became Article 251.

The most pressing concerns of ordinary Europeans, such as their legal and personal security, immigration and fraud prevention, were all dealt with in other chapters of the Treaty. In particular, the EU will now be able to legislate on immigration, civil law or civil procedure, in so far as this is necessary for the free movement of persons within the EU. At the same time, intergovernmental cooperation was intensified in the police and criminal justice field so that Member States will be able to coordinate their activities more effectively. The Union aims to establish an area of freedom, security and justice for its citizens. The Schengen Agreements have now been incorporated into the legal system of the EU (Ireland and the UK remained outside the Schengen agreement, see Common Travel Area for details).

The Treaty lays down new principles and responsibilities in the field of the common foreign and security policy, with the emphasis on projecting the EU's values to the outside world, protecting its interests and reforming its modes of action. The European Council will lay down common strategies, which will then be put into effect by the Council acting by a qualified majority, subject to certain conditions. In other cases, some States may choose to abstain "constructively", i.e. without actually preventing decisions being taken.

The treaty introduced a High Representative for EU Foreign Policy who, together with the Presidents of the Council and the European Commission, puts a "name and a face" on EU policy in the outside world. Although the Amsterdam Treaty did not provide for a common defence, it did increase the EU's responsibilities for peacekeeping and humanitarian work, in particular by forging closer links with Western European Union.

As for the institutions, there were two major reforms concerning the codecision procedure (the legislative procedure involving the European Parliament and the Council), affecting its scope - most legislation was adopted by the codecision procedure - and its detailed procedures, with Parliament playing a much stronger role. The President of the Commission will also have to earn the personal trust of Parliament, which will give him the authority to lay down the Commission's policy guidelines and play an active part in choosing the Members of the Commission by deciding on their appointment by common accord with the national governments. These provisions make the Commission more politically accountable, particularly vis-à-vis the European Parliament. Finally, the new Treaty opens the door, under very strict conditions, to closer cooperation between Member States which so wish. Closer cooperation may be established, on a proposal from the Commission, in cases where it is not possible to take joint action, provided that such steps do not undermine the coherence of the EU or the rights and equality of its citizens.

Challenges[edit]

The Amsterdam Treaty did not settle all institutional questions. Work was still in progress on reforming the institutions to make them capable of operating effectively and democratically in a much enlarged EU. The most pressing issues were the composition of the Commission and the weighting of Member States' votes upon qualified majority voting. These questions were addressed in the Treaty of Lisbon.

Signatures[edit]

Amsterdam Treaty FA Belgium.png Amsterdam Treaty FA Denmark.png Amsterdam Treaty FA Finland.png Amsterdam Treaty FA France.png Amsterdam Treaty FA Greece.png Amsterdam Treaty FA Ireland.png Amsterdam Treaty FA Italy.png Amsterdam Treaty FA Luxembourg.png Amsterdam Treaty FA the Netherlands.png
 Belgium  Denmark  Finland  France  Greece  Ireland  Italy  Luxembourg  Netherlands
Amsterdam Treaty FA Portugal.png Amsterdam Treaty FA Spain.png Amsterdam Treaty FA the United Kingdom.png Amsterdam Treaty FA Sweden.png Amsterdam Treaty FA Germany.png Amsterdam Treaty Austria.png
 Portugal  Spain  UK  Sweden  Germany  Austria
Signed
In force
Document
1948
1948
Brussels Treaty
1951
1952
Paris Treaty
1954
1955
Modified Brussels Treaty
1957
1958
Rome treaties
1965
1967
Merger Treaty
1975
N/A
European Council conclusion
1985
1985
Schengen Treaty
1986
1987
Single European Act
1992
1993
Maastricht Treaty
1997
1999
Amsterdam Treaty
2001
2003
Nice Treaty
2007
2009
Lisbon Treaty
 
                         
Three pillars of the European Union:  
European Communities:  
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)   
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC)
        Schengen Rules   European Community (EC)
    TREVI Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)  
  Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
          European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Unconsolidated bodies Western European Union (WEU)    
Treaty terminated in 2011  
                       

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Text of "Treaty of Amsterdam"

External links[edit]