What is the Maastricht treaty?
In brief, the Maastricht treaty is what created the European Union and drafted the role of the member states. There are later amendments to this treaty, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon treaties, but the Maastricht treaty is what started the journey towards a united Europe. In the beginning there were 12 member nations whose citizens were first introduced to the concept of the European citizenship, and to the plans for the economic and monetary union with a common currency: the Euro.
What happened after signing the treaty and how does it affect us now?
Not all nations accepted the treaty right away. Denmark, France and Ireland held referendums about signing the treaty in 1992. Ireland and France voted in favor of signing the treaty, but Denmark ended up with the opposite result. The country made a ai???National compromiseai??? and called for four exceptions to the treaty for Denmark: the country would not take part in a common defense action, it would not be committed in relation to union citizenship, it would not participate in the single currency or other economic policy requirements regarding the third stage of the EMU and it did not accept the transfer of sovereignty regarding the justice and police affairs. These four exceptions eventually led to Denmark agreeing with the Maastricht Treaty in the 1993 referendum.
It has already been 25 years since the laws of the Maastricht treaty defined what it meant to be a member state of the European Union, and it still serves as the cornerstone for the EU as a whole and the national governments of the member states. As we near the 25th anniversary of signing the treaty it is important to recognize the influence the legislation has had on the lives of us young people. Many of us have grown up with the Euro, or were very young when the national currency changed, and never had to experience the process of changing money at a currency exchange office.
The Maastricht treaty was a choice for a changing Europe.
The leaders 25 years ago signed the treaty to begin a process of transferring sovereignty. You canai??i??t have a common currency without a Banking Union, an Economic Union and a Fiscal Union. In 25 years, we have developed into a more united Europe with an internal single market, free movement of people, and an aim to maintain common legislation on justice and home affairs, as well as common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development.
The biggest problem within the Eurozone at the moment is not economical, but political.
We are facing a phase of populism and a rise of populist parties on the national level. This creates either weak governments not capable of reforms necessary for the national and international development, or bigger parties that have opposite goals than the EU and that slow down the international development that is wanted. The American presidential elections faced the same issues we have been facing here in Europe: migration, terrorism, globalization, and objection of the elites. The causes of the difficulties are not just related to the EU but are a wider Western challenge. Right now the European people need to take a look at the bigger picture and stay confident about the future of our international union.
The European Union has taken a huge step forward since the Maastricht treaty was signed 25 years ago. Within the next 25 years the Union will be even further: our societies, democracies and economies are still open, and there are solutions for the financial instabilities, unemployment, irregular immigration, climate change and inequalities. In the coming years, the Union should reach for a balance between freedom, protection and fairness. The European idea is still young and growing, and it is time for the next generation to step up and continue building upon the foundation of the treaty.