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One State, One World

Strengthening The Union: The Maastricht Treaty

The treaty extended the EU’s authority to new policy areas and laid the groundwork for the future euro.

photo of european parliament

Photo: Salim Shadid

The Maastricht Treaty deepened the authority of the EU in several existing policy areas, and extended the EU’s authority in several new policy areas

The 1992 Maastricht Treaty represented a new stage of European integration. Often called the Treaty on European Union, Maastricht formally established the EU.

The treaty extended the EU’s authority to new policy areas and laid the groundwork for the future euro by establishing criteria for member states to adopt a common currency.

Of course, the Treaty did not create an integrated Europe out of whole cloth; other areas of European integration preceded the Maastricht Treaty, including the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Atomic Energy Community, and the European Economic Community. The Maastricht Treaty placed all three of these communities under a single authority dealing with economic, monetary, and trade policy.

Maastricht formally expanded the EU’s purview to include foreign policy and police and judicial cooperation, reflecting the longstanding desire among pro-integrationists to create a political, and not merely economic, union.

Although this new authority strengthened the EU at the expense of individual member states, the treaty made it clear that problems should be decided at the lowest government level possible. Similar to the idea that the U.S. federal government should not address problems that Indiana can solve, the EU recognizes that countries and regions play an important role in citizens’ lives.

The Maastricht Treaty also, to the dismay of some, created differentiation among member states. It did so by containing clauses that allowed the UK, Denmark, and Sweden to opt out of the Euro currency zone. Critics of these clauses argued that they created a multi-tiered EU that subtracted from the sense of unity that the organization had cultivated.

Despite these concerns, many of the changes made by Maastricht (strengthening the European Parliament, extending the EU’s authority to new policy areas, creating a unified EU foreign policy, etc.) have been furthered by subsequent treaties.

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This episode of One State One World is produced in partnership with the EU Center at Indiana University.

Read more about the European Union on the EU Center’s blog, Across the Pond.