25th Anniversary Maastricht Treaty
In 2017, it will be 25 years since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in the Gouvernement – the Limburg Provincial Government Buildings. This memorable occasion is a perfect opportunity to look back and to look ahead to the future of Europe.
On 9 and 10 December 1991, a European Council meeting – also referred to as the European Summit – was held in Maastricht. During that meeting, the twelve Member States reached agreement regarding a treaty on European political union, which would convert the then European Community into the European Union, and regarding a treaty relating to European monetary union, leading to the birth of the euro. On 7 February 1992, the treaty was signed in the Limburg Provincial Government Buildings: the Maastricht Treaty was born.
Before the Maastricht Treaty, the current European Union used the abbreviation EEC: European Economic Community. Following the conclusion of the Treaty, the Member States started collaborating not just in economic areas but in other areas too.
With regard to finance, it was decided that efforts would be focused on creating a single European currency: the euro. After the setting up of the European Central Bank in 1998 and the fact that share prices had already been quoted in euros since 1999, the new European currency was finally launched on 1 January 2002.
The European Summit was attended by the government leaders of all the then European Member States, together with their ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance. The President and the two Vice-Presidents of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament were also present.
The European Summit was held in the banqueting hall of the Limburg Provincial Government Buildings. After agreement had been reached, it was decided that the official signing would be a very special occasion. On 7 February 1992, the Treaty was signed by all participating European ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance in the Council Chamber.
Why was the Treaty concluded in Maastricht?
In 1991, the Netherlands, together with Portugal, held the presidency of the European Council, in which the twelve members of the EEC were represented. The European Summit was therefore held in the Netherlands. Limburg, with its provincial capital Maastricht, put itself forward for organising the summit. Because of the location of Limburg, at the centre of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, the international character of the city, the many hotel and conference facilities and the then brand new Provincial Government Buildings on the River Meuse as a favourable location, Maastricht was chosen. This was a follow-up to 1981, when the Limburg capital also hosted a European Summit.