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What is the Maastricht Treaty?

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  • Written By: Julie Crotty
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2014
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Signed in Maastricht, the Netherlands, on 7 February 1992, the Maastricht Treaty created the European Union, or EU. Formerly called the Treaty on European Union, or TEU, the treaty went into effect 1 November 1993. Currently comprised of 27 member states, or nations, the EU provides benefits for citizens of member states such as ease of travel for work, education, or recreational purposes. In addition, the common European currency, the euro, was created with the introduction of the Maastricht Treaty.

With the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union (EU) was divided into three separate “pillars”. The European Community (EC) pillar existed in a more restricted form as the European Economic Community prior to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, however, was renamed in order to broaden the base of the policies it governed. The second pillar, the Common Foreign and Security Policy, or CFSP, was created in the interests of strengthening the security of the European Union as well as strengthening international security, promoting international cooperation, and supporting the mission of the United Nations Charter. The third pillar, Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), was amended by the Nice and Amsterdam treaties and is now comprised solely of Police and Judicial Co-Operation in Criminal Matters. The pillar with the greatest authority is the European Community pillar, which has more involvement with the economic affairs of the EU, compared to the CFSP or JHA pillars.

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Benefits seen after the enforcement of the Maastricht Treaty include: providing financial aid to EU member states that are less developed and meet certain convergence criteria; common goals of the member states to control and reduce debt, inflation and interest rates; and the promotion of a closer relationship between the member states. In addition to the free movement of people for work, education, and recreation, the movement of goods and services is also not restricted.

Agreement to the European Convention on Human Rights must be signed by member states in order to be eligible for membership into the EU. Willful sign off of the human rights agreement demonstrates the member states see eye to eye on the basic articles of human protection.

The Maastricht Treaty has been ratified and amended several times since its adoption in 1992. Denmark ratified the treaty in 1993 with some exceptions and France narrowly supported the initiative.

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