(European Union) The popular name for the European Treaty for Economic Union. A treaty, signed in the Dutch city of Maastricht on February 7, 1992, that changed the name of the European Community (EC) to the European Union (EU) and paved the way for further European integration. In addition to the change in name, the major aims of the treaty were: 1) Monetary union. To abolish existing European currencies and replace them with the Euro. (This was achieved as of January 1, 2002.) In addition, to create a European Central Bank (ECB) to assume the various functions of the central banks of the member states in establishing monetary policy. 2) Political and military integration. To work towards a common foreign policy and a joint military force. (These goals have proved to be more controversial than monetary union as they have been seen to infringe upon the very core of national sovereignty.) And 3) Common citizenship. To establish common EU citizenship for nationals of all member states.
The ratification of the treaty was a sometimes dramatic affair during the course of 1992 and 1993. National referendums were held in France, Spain, and Ireland and twice in Denmark. The Danes initially voted to reject the treaty prompting the UK and Italy to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. The French voted narrowly in favor in September 1992.
Low-income countries such as Spain and Ireland, however, voted clearly for ratification as they stood to benefit the greatest from the treaty. By November 1992 all member states except Denmark and Great Britain had ratified the treaty. At a summit meeting in Edinburgh in December 1992, compromises were made which led to Danish ratification in a second referendum in May 1993 and to ratification in the UK in July 1993. The treaty was formally ratified by all member states on November 1, 1993.
See European Union.