Maastricht Treaty

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Treaty on European Union
Type Founding treaty
Signed 7 February 1992 (1992-02-07)
Location Maastricht, Netherlands
Effective 1 November 1993
Amendment Treaty of Amsterdam (1999)
Treaty of Nice (2003)
Treaty of Lisbon (2009)
Signatories EU member states
Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union at Wikisource
Flag of Europe.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
European Union

The Treaty on European Union (TEU; also referred to as the Treaty of Maastricht ([maːˈstrɪxt]) is one of two treaties forming the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU), the other being the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU; also referred to as the Treaty of Rome).

The TEU was originally signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands to further European integration.[1] On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty.[2] Upon its entry into force on 1 November 1993 during the Delors Commission,[3] it created the three pillars structure of the European Union and led to the creation of the single European currency, the euro.

TEU comprised two novel titles respectively on Common Foreign and Security Policy and Cooperation in the Fields of Justice and Home Affairs, which replaced the former informal intergovernmental cooperation bodies named TREVI and European Political Cooperation on EU Foreign policy coordination. In addition TEU also comprised three titles which amended the three pre-existing community treaties: Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, and the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community which had its abbreviation renamed from TEEC to TEC (being known as TFEU since 2007).

The Maastricht Treaty (TEU) and all pre-existing treaties, has subsequently been further amended by the treaties of Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2001) and Lisbon (2009).

History[edit]

While the current version of the TEU entered into force in 2009, following the Treaty of Lisbon (2007), the older form of the same document was implemented by the Treaty of Maastricht (1992).

Signing[edit]

Stone memorial in front of the entry to the Limburg Province government building in Maastricht, Netherlands, commemorating the signing of the Maastricht Treaty

The signing of the Treaty of Maastricht took place in Maastricht, Netherlands, on 7 February 1992. The Dutch government, by virtue of holding Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the negotiations in the second half of 1991, arranged a ceremony inside the government buildings of the Limburg province on the river Maas (Meuse). Representatives from the twelve member states of the European Communities were present, and signed the treaty as plenipotentiaries, marking the conclusion of the period of negotiations.

Ratification[edit]

Although the pledge to create a single currency has been called ’the greatest voluntary concession of sovereignty ever made to international institutions’ by American political scientist Craig Parsons, only three countries held referenda (France, Denmark and Ireland - all required by their respective constitutions).[4] The process of ratifying the treaty was fraught with difficulties in three states. In Denmark, the first Danish Maastricht Treaty referendum was held on 2 June 1992 and ratification of the treaty was rejected by a margin of 50.7% to 49.3%.[5] Subsequently, alterations were made to the treaty through the addition of the Edinburgh Agreement which lists four Danish exceptions, and this treaty was ratified the following year on 18 May 1993 after a second referendum was held in Denmark,[6] with legal effect after the formally granted royal assent on 9 June 1993.[7]

In September 1992, a referendum in France only narrowly supported the ratification of the treaty, with 50.8% in favour. This narrow vote for ratification in France, known at the time as the ‘petite oui’, led Jacques Delors to comment that, ‘Europe began as an elitist project in which it was believed that all was required was to convince the decision-makers. That phase of benign despotism is over.[8] Uncertainty over the Danish and French referendums was one of the causes of the turmoil on the currency markets in September 1992, which led to the UK pound's expulsion from the Exchange Rate Mechanism.[citation needed]

In the United Kingdom, an opt-out from the treaty's social provisions was opposed in Parliament 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 Commons, and thus the government of John Major came close to losing the confidence of the House.[9] In accordance with British constitutional convention, specifically that of parliamentary sovereignty, ratification in the UK was not subject to approval by referendum. Despite this, the British constitutional historian Vernon Bogdanor wrote at the time that there was “a clear constitutional rationale for requiring a referendum” because although MPs are entrusted with legislative power by the electorate, they are not given authority to transfer that power (the UK’s previous three referenda all concerned the transfer of parliamentary powers). Further, as the ratification of the treaty was in the manifestos of the three major political parties, voters opposed to ratification had no way to express that opposition. For Bogdanor, while the ratification of the treaty by the House of Commons might be legal, it would not be legitimate - which requires popular consent. The way in which the treaty was ratified, he judged, was “likely to have fundamental consequences both for British politics and for Britain's relationship with the European Community”.[10][11]

Entry into force[edit]

The TEU entered into force on 1 November 1993.

Amendments[edit]

Treaties amending the TEU:

Historical assessment[edit]

The treaty led to the creation of the euro. One of the obligations of the treaty for the members was to keep "sound fiscal policies, with debt limited to 60% of GDP and annual deficits no greater than 3% of GDP".[12]

The treaty also created what was commonly referred to as the pillar structure of the European Union.

The treaty established the three pillars of the European Union—one supranational pillar created from three European Communities (which included the European Economic Community (EEC), the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Atomic Energy Community), the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar, and the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar. The first pillar was where the EU's supra-national institutions—the Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice—had the most power and influence. The other two pillars were essentially more intergovernmental in nature with decisions being made by committees composed of member states' politicians and officials.[13]

All three pillars were the extensions of 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 first 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, and judicial cooperation. This desire was set off against the misgivings 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 agreed 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).

In addition, the treaty established the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). CoR is the European Union's (EU) assembly of local and regional representatives that provides sub-national authorities (i.e. regions, municipalities, cities, etc.) with a direct voice within the EU's institutional framework.

The Maastricht criteria[edit]

The Maastricht criteria (also known as the convergence criteria) are the criteria for European Union member states to enter the third stage of European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and adopt the euro as their currency. The four criteria are defined in article 121 of the treaty establishing the European Community. They impose control over inflation, public debt and the public deficit, exchange rate stability and the convergence of interest rates.

1. Inflation rates: No more than 1.5 percentage points higher than the average of the three best performing (lowest inflation) member states of the EU.

2. Government finance:

Annual government deficit:
The ratio of the annual government deficit to gross domestic product (GDP) must not exceed 3% at the end of the preceding fiscal year. If not, it is at least required to reach a level close to 3%. Only exceptional and temporary excesses would be granted for exceptional cases.
Government debt:
The ratio of gross government debt to GDP must not exceed 60% at the end of the preceding fiscal year. Even if the target cannot be achieved due to the specific conditions, the ratio must have sufficiently diminished and must be approaching the reference value at a satisfactory pace. As of the end of 2014, of the countries in the Eurozone, only Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Luxembourg, and Finland still met this target.[14]

3. Exchange rate: Applicant countries should have joined the exchange-rate mechanism (ERM II) under the European Monetary System (EMS) for two consecutive years and should not have devalued its currency during the period.

4. Long-term interest rates: The nominal long-term interest rate must not be more than 2 percentage points higher than in the three lowest inflation member states.

The purpose of setting the criteria is to maintain price stability within the Eurozone even with the inclusion of new member states.[12]

Present contents[edit]

After the preamble the consolidated treaty text is divided into six parts.[15]

Title I: Common Provisions[edit]

The first deals with common provisions. Article 1 establishes the European Union on the basis of the European Community and lays out the legal value of the treaties. Article 2 states that the EU is "founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities". The member states share a "society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail".

Article 3 then states the aims of the EU in six points. The first is simply to promote peace, European values and its citizens' well-being. The second relates to free movement with external border controls in place. Point 3 deals with the internal market. Point 4 establishes the euro. Point 5 states the EU shall promote its values, contribute to eradicating poverty, observe human rights and respect the charter of the United Nations. The final sixth point states that the EU shall pursue these objectives by "appropriate means" according with its competences given in the treaties.

Article 4 relates to member states' sovereignty and obligations. Article 5 sets out the principles of conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality with respect to the limits of its powers. Article 6 binds the EU to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 7 deals with the suspension of a member state and article 8 deals with establishing close relations with neighbouring states.

Title II: Provisions on democratic principles[edit]

Article 9 establishes the equality of national citizens and citizenship of the European Union. Article 10 declares that the EU is founded in representative democracy and that decisions must be taken as closely as possible to citizens. It makes reference to European political parties and how citizens are represented: directly in the Parliament and by their governments in the Council and European Council – accountable to national parliaments. Article 11 establishes government transparency, declares that broad consultations must be made and introduces provision for a petition where at least 1 million citizens may petition the Commission to legislate on a matter. Article 12 gives national parliaments limited involvement in the legislative process.

Title III: Provisions on the institutions[edit]

Article 13 establishes the institutions in the following order and under the following names: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the Court of Auditors. It obliges co-operation between these and limits their competencies to the powers within the treaties.

Article 14 deals with the workings of Parliament and its election, article 15 with the European Council and its president, article 16 with the Council and its configurations and article 17 with the Commission and its appointment. Article 18 establishes the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and article 19 establishes the Court of Justice.

Title IV: Provisions on enhanced co-operation[edit]

Title 4 has only one article which allows a limited number of member states to co-operate within the EU if others are blocking integration in that field.

Title V: General provisions on the Union's external action[edit]

Chapter 1 of this title includes articles 21 and 22. Article 21 deals with the principles that outline EU foreign policy; including compliance with the UN charter, promoting global trade, humanitarian support and global governance. Article 22 gives the European Council, acting unanimously, control over defining the EU's foreign policy.

Chapter 2 is further divided into sections. The first, common provisions, details the guidelines and functioning of the EU's foreign policy, including establishment of the European External Action Service and member state's responsibilities. Section 2, articles 42 to 46, deal with military co-operation (including mutual defence).

On 17 November 2015, France called other member states for military assistance, on the basis of the Article 42.[16] This was the first time the article had ever been applied and all of the member states were reported to respond in agreement (ibid). However at least one member state (Finland) made a conclusion that due to conflicting national law, military assistance was excluded.[17]

Title VI: Final provisions[edit]

Article 47 establishes a legal personality for the EU. Article 48 deals with the method of treaty amendment; specifically the ordinary and simplified revision procedures. Article 49 deals with applications to join the EU and article 50 with withdrawal. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote in Britain on June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom formally invoked Article 50 in March 2017, giving notice that it would leave the EU within two years. Article 51 deals with the protocols attached to the treaties and article 52 with the geographic application of the treaty. Article 53 states the treaty is in force for an unlimited period, article 54 deals with ratification and 55 with the different language versions of the treaties.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "1990-1999". The history of the European Union - 1990-1999. Europa. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "1991". The EU at a glance - The History of the European Union. Europa. Archived from the original on 5 April 2009. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "1993". The EU at a glance - The History of the European Union. Europa. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  4. ^ Parsons, Craig (2006). A Certain Idea of Europe. Cornell University Press. p.202. ISBN 9780801440861
  5. ^ Havemann, Joel (4 June 1992). "EC Leaders at Sea Over Danish Rejection: Europe: Vote against Maastricht Treaty blocks the march to unity. Expansion plans may also be in jeopardy". LA Times. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "In Depth: Maastricht Treaty". BBC News. 30 April 2001. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Lov om Danmarks tiltrædelse af Edinburgh-Afgørelsen og Maastricht-Traktaten (*1)" (in Danish). Retsinformation. 9 June 1993. 
  8. ^ Anell, Lars (2014). Democracy in Europe – An essay on the real democratic problem in the European Union. p.23. FORUM FÖR EU-DEBATT.
  9. ^ Goodwin, Stephen (23 July 1993). "The Maastricht Debate: Major 'driven to confidence factor': Commons Exchanges: Treaty issue 'cannot fester any longer'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Bogdanor also quotes John Locke’s The Second Treatise of Government: ‘The Legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands. For it being but a delegated power from the People, they who have it cannot pass it to others.' - Bogdanor, Vernon (8 June, 1993). Why the people should have a vote on Maastricht: The House of Lords must uphold democracy and insist on a referendum. The Independent.
  11. ^ Bogdanor, Vernon (26 July, 1993). Futility of a House with no windows. The Independent.
  12. ^ a b . Hubbard, Glenn and Tim Kane. (2013). Balance: The Economics of Great Powers From Ancient Rome to Modern America . Simon & Schuster. P. 204. ISBN 978-1-4767-0025-0
  13. ^ "Treaties and law". European Union. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Eurostat - Tables, Graphs and Maps Interface (TGM) table". ec.europa.eu. 
  15. ^ Wikisource link to Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union. Wikisource. 2009. 
  16. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "EU backs French appeal for military assistance as fight ramps up against 'Islamic State' - News - DW - 17.11.2015". DW.COM. 
  17. ^ "Pääministeri Sipilä: Suomi auttaa Ranskaa". 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]