Today’s European Union is a powerful voice in support of peace and justice across the world. It is home to the world’s second most traded currency and is the world’s largest trading bloc. At the same time, it guarantees the rights of almost 450 million EU citizens.
The Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union (EU), was signed in Maastricht on February 7, 1992, and it entered into force on November 1, 1993, after being ratified by the then 12 member states of the European Communities. The Intergovernmental Conferences (IGCs) on Political Union (PU) and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) where the member states negotiated the amendments to the founding treaties took place against the turbulent geopolitical background of the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), German unification, and the end of the Cold War.
The new treaty amended the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and established the European Community (EC) as the first pillar of the Union. It also amended the Treaty Establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). It further added two pillars of intergovernmental cooperation, namely Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in a second pillar and Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) cooperation in a third pillar.
These changes were to transform European integration as Maastricht allowed the EU to develop important new policies to better serve and protect its citizens. It made the EU more effective, inclusive, transparent and accountable.
The signing of the treaty was a historic moment in the process of European unification: while economic interests originally determined the central core of the Union, the EU Treaty provided the basis for the European Community to develop into a political union. Members committed themselves not only to economic collaboration but to close political cooperation as well.
In addition, the EU member states laid the foundations for the common European currency. The euro was introduced in January 2002 and has since facilitated exchange between EU countries. There are no currency exchange charges, and prices can be compared directly across Europe. 19 of the 27 EU member states now make up the Eurozone.
According to europarl.europa.eu & bundesregierung.de