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Glossary:Treaty on European Union

The Treaty on European Union, abbreviated as TEU and also called Treaty of Maastricht, was signed in Maastricht on 7 February 1992 and entered into force on 1 November 1993. It represents a new stage in European integration since it opens the way to political integration, by creating a European Union consisting of three pillars:

  • the European Communities;
  • Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP);
  • police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (JHA).

The Treaty introduces the concept of European citizenship, reinforces the powers of the European Parliament and launches economic and monetary union. Besides, the EEC becomes the European Community (EC).

Amendments were made to the Treaty of Maastricht by:

  • the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), which increased the powers of the Union by creating a Community employment policy, transferring to the Communities some of the areas which were previously subject to intergovernmental cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs, introducing measures aimed at bringing the Union closer to its citizens and enabling closer cooperation between certain Member States (enhanced cooperation). It also extended the codecision procedure and qualified majority voting and simplified and renumbered the articles of the Treaties;
  • the Treaty of Nice (2001), which essentially dealt with the institutional problems linked to enlargement left unresolved by the Treaty of Amsterdam: the make-up of the European Commission, the weighting of votes in the Council and the extension of the areas of qualified majority voting; it also simplified the rules on use of the enhanced cooperation procedure and made the judicial system more effective.
  • the Treaty of Lisbon (2007), which gave legal personality to the European Union, abolished the previous pillar system, increased the power of the European Parliament and involvement of national parliaments in the legislative process of the Union, further extended areas of qualified majority voting (to be changed in 2014 into double majority voting), introduced functions of a President of the European Council and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, included the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union into legally binding acts, and introduced the European Citizens' initiative and the ability of a state to voluntarily withdraw from the EU.

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