Why did the Treaty of Maastricht mark a milestone in creating a political union?
The Treaty of Maastricht, formerly known as the Treaty of the European Union came at a pivotal time in European history. Eastern Europe was a victim of the collapse of Communism, which had a strong impact on the European Commission (EC) as this meant new potential markets were open which they were keen to take over (Bache, 2001:124). However, the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union meant that there was unsettlement in the east. During the same period of time there was possibility for reunification in Germany. This was looked upon with great caution because many feared that this could cause Germany Nationalism to ignite again. Due to these events it meant that integration in Europe became a strong focus because there was wider scope to enhance European power. These factors had a very strong impact upon the Maastricht Treaty and determined much of its future.
The Maastricht Treaty is well known for its controversial nature (Dinan, 1999:27). Unlike other treaties that had been seen before, Maastricht included two new areas – home affairs and a common foreign and security policy. (Bieler, 2009:Lecture 4) Moreover, Maastricht marked the movement for changes in economic and monetary union, most notably the introduction of a single currency within Europe. In addition to this, the treaty also included unification in employment and social issues, which contained issues such as health and safety regulations as well as wage rules for workers. However, Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minster of the UK at the time strongly disapproved thus the UK managed to negotiate an opt-out of the social chapter. This was done by the Social Protocol. The UK only signed the Maastricht Treaty under John Major’s government (Bache, 2001:125).
The Treaty enabled the 12 member states at the time to be given European citizenship. This meant that they could freely move across European borders, live in any EU state, as well as voting on European and local elections in any member state (Dinan, 1999:31). However, before fully recognizing just how the Maastricht Treaty enabled a political union, we must understand why exactly the Maastricht Treaty came about.
The Monetary policy never had much focus within the Single European Act (SEA), but there had been growing support for a monetary policy that had common features for all EU members (Bache, 2001:127). Because of this, all the heads of governments of each member state gathered for a meeting in Hanover in June 1988 to set up a committee of central bankers and technical experts chaired by Delors (Bache, 2001:125). Their aim was to come up with a report that would explain how monetary union could be achieved as well as Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). By June 1989 the Delor’s Report was ready. The European Council held a meeting in Madrid and the Report suggested that there is a three-stage progress that will result in a single currency by 1999 which would promote political union within union and let Europe take its first stepping stone to becoming a supranational power. The report was accepted, with only refusal by the UK. Stage one of Delor’s Report started on July 1 1990. Stage 1 aimed to make a decision on an IGC in order to allow a monetary union to be created. By June 1990 the European Council had a meeting in Dublin and decided that the EMU and EPU were the IGC’s that had been agreed upon and they would commence at a summit in Rome in December 1990. *
It has been established why and how Maastricht came about, but it must be established what it specifically included. The Maastricht Treaty adopted two new core principles – one being that policies should always be decided at regional levels and the other was that union citizenship was of prime importance. Both these policies are of core importance to ignite and secure political union. Citizens do not want to lose their duty and spirit...
Bibliography: Bache, I. George, S (2001). Politics in the European Union, Oxford University Press.
Bieler, A (2009). Lecture 4, University of Nottingham.
Dinan, D (1999). Even closer Union – An Introduction to European Integration, Lynne Rienner.
Unavailable (2001). [Website] Available from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/europe/euro-glossary. [Accessed: April 3 2009)
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