Maastricht Treaty

   Many issues within the European Union were awaiting resolution in the discussions at Maastricht in December 1991. A treaty was negotiated and signed which in the words of the Preamble was designed to achieve ‘an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe’. The treaty created a European Union which had four objectives: the promotion of economic and social progress, particularly via economic and monetary union; the implementation of a foreign and security policy; cooperation in the areas of justice and home affairs; and the establishment of joint citizenship for the inhabitants of the Union. There were also institutional changes, via which the Parliament gained greater powers and an ombudsman was established to investigate maladministration. In addition to the main treaty, there were 17 Protocols and 33 Declarations.
   The United Kingdom secured a double opt-out, John Major declining to commit Britain to involvement in economic and monetary union and refusing to sign up for the Protocol which created the Social Chapter. The resulting settlement was presented by Major as a negotiating triumph, a victory ‘game, set and match’. However, the process of ratification in Britain proved difficult, for with an ever-dwindling majority the Prime Minister found himself much criticised by the eurosceptics inhis own party. British ratification was eventually completed in August 1993 and the Maastricht Treaty and European Union offi- cially came into existence in November of that year.
   Further reading: N Nugent, The Government and Politics of the European Union, Palgrave, 2003

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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