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 towards their nation, and they also want to feel safe. There were key institutional changes that altered how the European Committee and Parliament functioned. For instance, the European Parliament now had the ability to veto legislation. Other institutional changes saw the formation of a Committee of Regions and the Court of Justice be given the right to fine member states that were not complying with its judgments (Bieler, 2009:Lecture 4).Moreover, there were pivotal policy changes as it introduced education, public health, the environment and consumer protection, again to promote Europe’s supranational qualities. Maastricht carried on to emphasize the necessity of European integration and the head’s of government agreed that this would be achieved by a three-pillar structure. The three pillars were “the EC pillar (economic and social affairs), and the intergovernmental pillars of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) (Bache, 2001:124).
The following diagram clearly explains each pillar and was they do: THE EUROPEAN UNIONThe European Community (EC)(Formerly EEC)| Common Foreign & Security Policy| Justice & Home Affairs| Common Policies and Actions (e. g. , agricultural, environment, structural policy). | Common Defence WEU (Western Union| Asylum Policy| Economic and Monetary Union| All areas of Foreign and Security Policy| Control on external borders| Citzenship of the European Union| | Immigration| | | European Police Office (Europol)| Fig 18. 1 The three –pillar structure (Source: adapted from European Parliament slides.
) (Bache, 2001:124) In addition, the introduction of the three-pillar system meant that the make-up of the EC also changed.This is how it now looked: EU (European Council) Council of Ministers Council of Ministers Council of Ministers EC (ECSC, EEC, Euratom)CFSPJHA (Commission, EP, ECJ) (Bieler, 2009:Lecture 4) All of these factors helped to contribute towards a political union. For example, people could freely move between member states and more concern was taken on issues such as workers rights and the environment. However, as well as promoting political union, the formation of the Maastricht Treaty also developed a divide – particularly due to the single currency plea.Support for the EU dissolved in Germany because they were extremely hesitant to support the single currency as the Deutschmark was strong. (Bache, 2001:123). However the Deutschmark was officially high which led to inflation.
Thus Germany was extremely resistant to join forces with EU Monetary Union and therefore Maastricht. Political union carried on to look weak as the Danish rejected the TEU after a referendum in 1992 (Bache, 2001:123). They only accepted in 1993 after there were significant changes. Similarly in France, support for the TEU was not apparent and the referendum they held in 1992 was only very narrowly passed.Potential member states including Austria, Finland and Sweden joined in 1995 but the EU was not as strong or confident as the one they initially signed up to.
The Maastricht Treaty was constantly caught up with its long and peevish negotiations in ratifying it for member states thus instead of creating a milestone in political union it in fact put political union to a stand still because of the unpopularity it brought to the EU. Theoretical explanations also help to establish whether the Maastricht Treaty promoted political union or whether in fact it actually caused a divide and prevented the European Union to prosper.Neo-functionalists argued that Maastricht’s plea for an Internal Market as well as fixed exchange rates to create an independent monetary policy was a pipe dream and is not really possible (Bieler, 2009:Lecture 4). The TNC advocated that big companies would benefit from “lower transaction costs and higher degree of stability resulting from single currency and related price stability” (Bieler, 2009:Lecture 4). However, arguably this could have been done by national banks in individual countries promoting to strengthen their individual currency.
It is apparent that Maastricht did this on purpose to enhance integration and push forward the EU to become a supranational power so it could have a reasonable chance to compete with India, China and the USA. However, neo-functionalists’ believe that Maastricht’s ideas were too ideological to work in the real world therefore its hopes to create a flourishing political union only worked on paper. Overall it is clear to see that The Maastricht Treaty did provide a milestone of political union on contentious issues such as the environment, workers’ rights and overall the social chapter – despite the initial hiccup initiated by the UK.
However issues concerning the Monetary Union were not as successful because of the apprehension of most states, most notably Germany. Thus it can be said that The Maastricht Treaty did indeed create a milestone in political union, but faced lots of negativity and tenuous negotiations that Delor’s Report had not aimed for. However, The Maastricht Treaty did indeed come together to form the introduction of the Euro by 1999 thus keeping to its initial aim, and therefore creating an overall milestone in political union.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