Maastricht Treaty

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Maastricht Treaty (written form)

The Maastricht Treaty is the name of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which was signed by the European Council on February 7, 1992 in Maastricht , Netherlands . It represents the biggest step in European integration since the founding of the European Communities (EC).

With this treaty, which replaced the Treaty of Rome in 1957 , the European Union (EU) was founded as the overarching association for the European Communities, the common foreign and security policy and cooperation in the areas of justice and home affairs .

Apart from the actual EU Treaty in its original version, the Maastricht Treaty also contains provisions on comprehensive amendments to the Treaties establishing the European Communities, i.e. the EC Treaty , the EURATOM Treaty and the ECSC Treaty , which was still in force at the time . It came into force on November 1, 1993. The legal status thus created was changed again on May 1, 1999 by the Treaty of Amsterdam .


Memorial stele in Maastricht

After negotiations that took place in Maastricht in December 1991, the contract was signed on February 7, 1992. Because of a few obstacles in the ratification process ( the Danish people only approved it in a second referendum ; constitutional complaints in Germany against the parliamentary approval of the treaty), it could not come into force until November 1, 1993. He describes himself as "a new stage in the realization of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe".

In addition to a series of amendments to the EC Treaty and the Euratom Treaty, it contains the founding act of the European Union (cf. preamble to the EU Treaty), without completing it itself. Like the development of the EC, it was a first step on the way to an EU constitution that is later to replace the EU treaties.

The European Union founded here does not replace the European Communities (Article 47 EU Treaty), but places them under a common roof with the new "Policies and Forms of Cooperation" (Article 2 EU Treaty). Together with other elements, the European Communities form the three pillars of the European Union :

Column model EU.svg

Chronological order

European Act
  Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif
European communities Three pillars of the European Union
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Contract expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC) European Community (EC)
      Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)
  Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters (PJZS)
European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Western Union (WU) Western European Union (WEU)    
dissolved on July 1, 2011

content of the contract

monetary and economic union

Deficit / surplus of European national budgets up to 2011 in % of GDP

The main focus of the contract are changes to the EC contract, in which in particular the provisions for the creation of the European Economic and Monetary Union in three stages are inserted. According to the text of the contract, a common currency ( euro ) should be introduced in the EU by January 1, 1997 at the earliest and by January 1, 1999 at the latest . For a country to participate in monetary union, it must meet certain economic criteria (the EU convergence criteria , also known as the Maastricht criteria) designed to ensure the stability of the common currency. These are criteria intended to ensure budget, price level, interest rate and exchange rate stability. The criterion of budgetary stability ( deficit ratio below 3% and debt ratio below 60% of GDP ) was interpreted as a permanent criterion ( Stability and Growth Pact ), the other criteria only have to be met by member states before the introduction of the euro.

The treaty stipulated that countries meeting the convergence criteria (which the Council of Ministers has to decide) would have to join the euro after that time . Only Great Britain and Denmark reserved the right to decide themselves whether to join the monetary union (so -called opting out ).

The euro was introduced as a book currency on January 1, 1999 (as cash on January 1, 2002); from January 1, 1999, the exchange rates between the currencies involved were fixed.

Common foreign and security policy

With the Maastricht Treaty, the previous European Political Cooperation (EPC) was replaced by the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Although the CFSP is a pillar of the EU, decisions ultimately remain in the hands of the nation states. The principle of unanimity therefore applies to most decisions .


The treaty introduced citizenship of the Union . It does not replace citizenship but complements it. Union citizenship is granted to everyone who has citizenship of one of the member states of the EU. Among other things, he receives a residence permit throughout the Union, the right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections in the country of residence, as well as the right to elect the European Parliament at his place of residence regardless of citizenship throughout the EU.

In addition, EU citizens were given the right to submit petitions to the European Parliament, where a Petitions Committee was set up for this purpose. The Office of the European Ombudsman has been set up as a point of contact for complaints.


Another innovation is the introduction of the codecision procedure . This put the European Parliament on an equal footing with the Council of Ministers in some areas . In addition, the European political parties were contractually recognized for the first time, which made it possible to finance the Europe-wide party alliances from EU funds.

It was also decided to set up the Committee of the Regions , which is to guarantee appropriate representation of the regions, such as the federal states in Germany.

Cooperation in domestic and legal policy

In addition, an improvement in cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs was decided in the treaty. As with the second pillar, the common foreign and security policy, the principle of unanimity was largely retained in this area. The European police authority Europol was founded to improve the coordination of police cooperation.

Protocol on Social Policy

A protocol on social policy and an agreement between eleven of the then member states (excluding Great Britain) were attached to the Maastricht Treaty. Great Britain was the only member state to speak out against this (comparatively small) step towards deepening integration in the area of ​​social policy and blocked its inclusion in the treaty, so that the other member states chose this intermediate integration policy step.

The Maastricht social protocol or social agreement is thus a good example of a policy of graduated integration ( two-speed Europe ), in which not all integration steps have to be carried out at the same time by all member states. In 1997, under Tony Blair 's newly elected government, Great Britain gave up its resistance to a more in-depth, common social policy, so that the text of the social agreement could be included in the Treaty of Amsterdam as Article 137 et seq. in the EC Treaty. The first law adopted through the social dialogue is Directive 96/34/EC on parental leave.


  • With the treaty, the European institutions were given competences in the field of culture for the first time (then Art. 128 EC Treaty, since the Treaty of Nice Art. 151 EC Treaty). The subsequent funding programs Raphael , Ariane and Kaleidoskop as well as the framework program Culture 2000 have their legal basis here.
  • The so-called Maastricht judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court ( BVerfGE 89, 155) of October 12, 1993 dealt with the concluded contract. The court approved the treaty as compatible with the Basic Law , but imposed conditions on the German legislature for implementation with regard to the democratic legitimacy of the association of states .


Immediately after it was signed, 62 German economists published the euro-critical manifesto The Monetary Policy Resolutions of Maastricht: A Danger for Europe , which warned against hasty and incorrect implementation of the treaty contents. Above all, the introduction of a currency union was criticized, since there were large macroeconomic structural differences and national interests could make common price stability more difficult. The professors' manifesto triggered a broad discussion, but had no political consequences.

The required rules for the reduction of national debt were criticized for making a Keynesian economic policy impossible and thus excluding the framework of a classic social democratic policy. The treaty therefore met with strong criticism from the labor movement and trade unions . In order to meet the criteria, many EU countries had to make sharp cuts in their spending, even though the EU-wide unemployment rate of 10% was already comparatively high. The criteria were suspected of being just an argument to push through a neoliberal austerity policy . In this context, Ralph Rotte and Klaus F. Zimmermann stated in 1998: “There is much to be said for the hypothesis that governments are actually using Maastricht as an instrument to enforce fiscal restraint.”

See also

Portal: European Union  - Overview of Wikipedia content related to the European Union


  • Carl-Otto Lenz, Klaus-Dieter Borchardt (eds.): EU treaties. Commentary , Bundesanzeiger Verlag Cologne, 5th edition 2010 ISBN 978-3-89817-702-3
  • Jürgen Schwarze, Ulrich Becker, among others: EU comment , Nomos Verlag Baden-Baden, 2nd edition 2009 ISBN 978-3-8329-2847-6
  • Dietmar Herz, Christian Jetzlsperger: The European Union , CHBeck Munich, 2nd edition 2008 ISBN 978-3-406-57622-5

web links

Commons : Maastricht Treaty  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Georg Kreis : Justice for Europe . A critique of EU criticism. Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2017, ISBN 978-3-7965-3743-1 , p. 164. ( limited preview at Google-Books )
  2. Kate Hudson: The New European Left . Palgrave Macmillan UK, London, ISBN 978-1-349-32054-7 , pp. 7 ff ., doi : 10.1057/9781137265111 .
  3. Ralph Rotte, Klaus F. Zimmermann: Fiscal Restraint and the Political Economy of EMU . In: Public Choice . tape 94 , no. 3/4 , 1998, ISSN  0048-5829 , pp. 385-406 .
  4. Anne Karrass: The European Union as an example of institutionalized (factual) constraints . In: Christoph Butterwegge, Bettina Loesch, Ralf Ptak (eds.): Neoliberalism . VS publishing house for social sciences, 2008, p. 254 , doi : 10.1007/978-3-531-90899-1 .