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The Maastricht Treaty

The Maastricht Treaty (formally, the Treaty on European Union or TEU) was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands.

On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty. Upon its entry into force on 1 November 1993 during the Delors Commission, it created the European Union and led to the creation of the single European currency, the euro. The Maastricht Treaty has been amended by the treaties of Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon.

Content of the Maastricht Treaty
The treaty led to the creation of the euro, and created what was commonly referred to as the pillar structure of the European Union. The treaty established the three pillars of the European Union — the European Community (EC) pillar, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar, and the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar. The first pillar was where the EU's supra-national institutions — the Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice — had the most power and influence. The other two pillars were essentially more intergovernmental in nature with decisions being made by committees composed of member states' politicians and officials.

All three pillars were the extensions of pre-existing policy structures. The European Community pillar was the continuation of the European Economic Community with the "Economic" being dropped from the name to represent the wider policy base given by the Maastricht Treaty. Coordination in foreign policy had taken place since the beginning of the 1970s under the name of European Political Cooperation (EPC), which had been first written into the treaties by the Single European Act but not as a part of the EEC. While the Justice and Home Affairs pillar extended cooperation in law enforcement, criminal justice, asylum, and immigration and judicial cooperation in civil matters, some of these areas had already been subject to intergovernmental cooperation under the Schengen Implementation Convention of 1990.

The creation of the pillar system was the result of the desire by many member states to extend the European Economic Community to the areas of foreign policy, military, criminal justice, judicial cooperation, and the misgiving of other member states, notably the United Kingdom, over adding areas which they considered to be too sensitive to be managed by the supra-national mechanisms of the European Economic Community. The compromise was that instead of renaming the European Economic Community as the European Union, the treaty would establish a legally separate European Union comprising the renamed European Economic Community, and the inter-governmental policy areas of foreign policy, military, criminal justice, judicial cooperation. The structure greatly limited the powers of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice to influence the new intergovernmental policy areas, which were to be contained with the second and third pillars: foreign policy and military matters (the CFSP pillar) and criminal justice and cooperation in civil matters (the JHA pillar).

Signing
The signing of the Treaty of Maastricht took place in Maastricht, Netherlands on 7 February 1992. The Dutch government, by virtue of holding Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the negotiations in the second half of 1991, arranged a ceremony inside the government buildings of the Limburg province on the river Maas (Meuse). Representatives from the twelve member states of the European Communities were present, and signed Treaty as plenipotentiaries, marking the conclusion of the period of negotiations.

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