What is the Maastricht Treaty?

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Signed in Maastricht, Netherlands, on February 7, 1992, the Maastricht Treaty created the European Union, or EU. Formerly called the Treaty on European Union, or TEU, the treaty came into force on November 1, 1993. Currently made up of 27 member states, or nations, the EU offers benefits to citizens of member states, such as ease of transport for work, education or recreational purposes. Furthermore, 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 distinct “pillars”. The pillar of the European Community (EC) existed in a more restricted form, as the European Economic Community before the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, however, was renamed in order to broaden the basis of the policies it governed. The second pillar, the Common Foreign and Security Policy, or CFSP, was created with the aim 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 Treaties of Nice and Amsterdam and is now composed exclusively of Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters. The most authoritative pillar is the European Community pillar, which is more involved in EU economic affairs compared to the CFSP or JHA pillars.

Benefits seen after the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty include: providing financial assistance to EU member states that are less developed and meet certain convergence criteria; common objectives of member states to control and reduce debt, inflation and interest rates; and the promotion of a closer relationship between 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.

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The agreement with the European Convention on Human Rights must be signed by the Member States to be eligible for EU membership. The deliberate signing of the human rights agreement demonstrates that member states agree with 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 a few exceptions, and France narrowly supported the initiative.

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