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Maastricht Treaty

The Maastricht Treaty, signed in 1992 and officially known as the Treaty on European Union (TEU), introduced several important additions and amendments to the Treaty of Rome and signalled an advance in European integration equalled only by the 1986 Single European Act. Its central features were the incorporation of EMU into the Treaty of Rome and the establishment of the European Union by the addition of two new fields of policy co-operation: the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). These new areas were formulated as intergovernmental responsibilities, rather than responsibilities of the Community's supranational organisations, an arrangement which was to a limited extent modified subsequently in the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, where the Community was given more of a role in providing policy guidelines and certain aspects of JHA were transferred to come under the competence of the Commission and the Court of Justice. Together with the Community itself (the 'first pillar'), the CFSP and JHA constitute the second and third of the 'three pillars' of the EU.

The ratification of the Treaty came near to disaster on several occasions, notably when it was rejected in a Danish referendum in 1992, accepted by the narrowest of margins in a French referendum the same year and only passed by the UK's House of Commons after unprecedented pressure by the whips in 1993. Nevertheless, it survived a second Danish referendum and a ruling by the German Constitutional Court to pass eventually into law, its obscure phraseology reflecting an uneasy compromise between integrationists and those who favoured a Community of voluntarily co-operating nation states. A notorious example of deliberate ambiguity was 'subsidiarity', a concept explained by the British government as recognising the vital role of national law-makers and simultaneously explained by Continental politicians as recognising the superior role of the Community.

The main legislative part of the Treaty concerned the implementation in progressive stages of economic and monetary union. There would be a fixed timetable, leading to the adoption of the single currency by those member states which were able to meet the convergence criteria. The British government accepted participation up to the preparatory Stage Two, but arranged an opt-out from Stage Three, when exchange rates would be irrevocably locked, the euro would come into being and national currencies would be abolished. As an inducement to hold another referendum, Denmark was also offered an opt-out from the single currency (as it was on defence and on certain other provisions of the Treaty).

Other features of the Treaty included the expansion of the structural funds to supply aid to the poorer EU regions; the widening of the competence of the Community to cover new areas such as education, culture, public health, consumer protection, trans-European networks, industry and the environment; the creation of the position of Ombudsman; and the formal introduction of the concept of citizenship of the Union.

A significant intention at Maastricht was to expand the Community's social dimension by introducing policies covering such aspects as workers' health and safety, workplace conditions, equal pay and the consultation of employees. These aspects were to be included in a separate section of the Treaty, called the Social Chapter. The British government refused to agree to this section being incorporated in the body of the Treaty and insisted on an opt-out. The 11 other members who supported the Chapter agreed to make it a protocol to the Treaty, which was not binding on the UK. In 1997 the incoming British Labour government cancelled the opt-out and agreed to sign the Social Chapter, which was thereupon put back into the main text as revised by the Treaty of Amsterdam.

After the Maastricht Treaty had been signed, such was the complexity of the drafting and so great the exhaustion of the negotiators that many of the protagonists had little clear idea of its meaning. The British team was temporarily proud that the word 'federal' appeared nowhere in this most federalising of documents. The public throughout Europe was baffled, and the unemployment that ensued in the mid to late 1990s did nothing to endear voters to a Treaty that they mistrusted and suspected of being at least partly responsible (through its strict monetary prescriptions) for the recession.

In 1997 the Treaty would undergo substantial amendment in the Treaty of Amsterdam. To distinguish between the original document and the later version, it is sometimes convenient to call the first one the Maastricht Treaty, reserving the technically correct Treaty on European Union for the amended and consolidated text. Likewise, those parts of the Treaty of Rome that were amended at Maastricht may be referred to equally correctly as being contained in the Treaty of Rome, the consolidated Treaty establishing the European Community (the revised name of the Treaty of Rome), or the Maastricht Treaty. (See also Common Foreign and Security Policy, EMU, Justice and Home Affairs, Treaty of Amsterdam, Treaty on European Union and Treaty of Rome.)

MacDougall Report

The 1977 MacDougall Report, named after its chairman, an economic adviser to the CBI, was produced at the request of the Commission. It studied public finance in the context of the EEC's move towards greater integration, concluding that the Community should be spending 2-2.5% of member states' total GDP in a pre-federal stage; 5-7% in a federal small-public-sector stage; and up to 25% in a federal large-public-sector stage. The EU currently spends some 1.2% of the aggregate GDP of its members. Thus the MacDougall Report recommended something between a doubling and a 20-fold increase in Community spending, depending on the degree of Europe's federal ambition.

Although MacDougall's budgetary conclusions, which were aimed at redistribution and economic adjustment, have been conveniently shelved, they had an uncomfortable logic; and both the structural funds and the concept of convergence owe much to his report.

Macmillan, Harold (1894-1986)

As Conservative prime minister, Harold Macmillan applied to join the EC in 1961, perhaps prompted by his own world-weary pessimism born of the UK's relative lack of economic success, its weakening Commonwealth ties and its declining post-imperial influence in the world. There was also pressure from the USA, which supported a united Europe. In 1962, after Macmillan and his friend President Kennedy had signed a nuclear missile agreement, President Charles de Gaulle vetoed the UK's application, doubtless mistrusting an increased Atlanticist influence within the Community.

MacSharry reforms

Named after the (Irish) CAP commissioner, the MacSharry Plan rescued the GATT negotiations from failure in the early 1990s. The reforms were designed to maintain farm incomes through direct aid rather than through guaranteed product prices, thereby reducing surpluses. The immediate effect of MacSharry's proposals was to raise the cost to the EU budget and to create a complex mountain of paperwork for farmers.

Major, John (1943-)

As prime minister from 1990 to 1997, John Major entered the scene as a pro-European, bent on being at the heart of Europe, in contrast to his predecessor Margaret Thatcher. He negotiated the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, his proud claim being to have obtained opt-outs from the final stage of EMU and from the Social Chapter. Indeed, at the time little more could have been achieved to protect the UK's position, which differed for good reason from that of its Continental partners.

Circumstances changed when Denmark rejected the Treaty by referendum in June 1992, for the Treaty of Rome can only be amended by the unanimous consent of the member states, and Maastricht was an amending Treaty. Three months later the European exchange rate system collapsed. There was intense speculation that France, too, would reject Maastricht and monetary union. Meanwhile the UK, in the grip of recession, could not sustain the high interest rates resulting from German reunification. A costly attempt to keep the pound locked to the D-Mark ended in failure and the pound was forced to devalue. It was Major, as Thatcher's chancellor, who had brought the UK into the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), but it was his successor in that post, Norman Lamont, who paid the price by resignation.

All the quaintness of a rain dance and about the same potency. John Major when prime minister, misreading the prospects for EMU, The Economist, September 1993

When the Maastricht Treaty came to be ratified in 1993 the parliamentary arithmetic was on a knife-edge. The ERM fiasco was seen as a warning of the consequences of fixed exchange rates, and a few backbenchers risked their careers to vote against the constitutional implications of the Treaty. Only merciless whipping and a threat to dissolve Parliament enabled the bill to be passed. From that moment onwards, Major was a victim of events. His communautaire reputation dissolved in the 'beef crisis', but the British economy recovered strongly, benefiting from the pound's unsought freedom. The 'bastards' (as Major imprudently described his dissident fellow Conservatives who opposed the UK joining the single currency) proved to speak for a majority of the party. But they were outmanoeuvred by a group of senior cabinet ministers, led by Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, who considered that scepticism over EMU would damage the UK's wider European interests.

Major was defeated by Tony Blair's Labour Party in the 1997 general election, bequeathing him a sound economy in which the secret of rising employment and growth without inflation appeared to have been unlocked by Conservative reforms. To the end even those closest to Major could not fathom his own position on EMU; and his equivocation on European matters doubtless contributed something to his undoing.


See Small countries.

Mani pulite

See Tangentopoli.

Mansholt, Sicco (1908-1995)

As Commissioner for Agriculture from 1958 until 1972, Mansholt was responsible more than anyone for the creation of the CAP. Although he brought them unheard of prosperity, he was never popular with farmers, being a strong advocate of eliminating inefficient small farms and setting limits to high guaranteed prices. For a brief period in 1972 and 1973 he was president of the Commission, the only Dutchman to have held that post.

Marshall Plan (Marshall Aid)

The Marshall Plan, named after General Marshall, a US army chief of staff in World War II, was a unique act of American generosity and enlightened self-interest. Under the Plan, which was overseen by what later became the OECD, the USA distributed some $12,500 million over three years, starting in 1947, to 16 European states, on condition that they set about dismantling trade barriers and systematically organising their own recovery. The instigator of Marshall Aid, as it became known, was President Truman, who perceived clearly the Soviet threat to a weakened Europe. Under pressure from Stalin the East European satellite countries refused to accept any Marshall Aid; the USSR also attempted, not without success, to raise fears in leftist circles in the West over German revanchism and American imperialism. Together with NATO, the Plan signalled the emergence of the USA as a European power and set Europe on a path to freedom and prosperity on a hitherto undreamed of scale, creating a debt of honour which France alone has sometimes been reluctant to acknowledge.

Mediterranean policy

In 1995, the EU launched a 'Euro-Mediterranean Partnership' with 12 Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian territories). The ambition, promulgated especially by France and Spain, was to create a free trade zone by 2010, to balance the eastward shift in the EU's centre of gravity that would follow from enlargement. Another motive was to aid stability in an area plagued by poverty and threatened by Islamic fundamentalism. The initiative was accompanied by promises of aid and resounding declarations about 'shared values', human rights, cultural co-operation, the 'fight against international crime' and so forth. In view, however, of the region's ancient antagonisms and the unsavoury character of some of its regimes, it was not unduly cynical to see this as a somewhat empty exercise.


Elected member of the European Parliament.

Merger Treaty

Signed in 1965 and brought into force in 1967, the Merger Treaty established a single Commission and a single Council of Ministers for the three existing Communities (the ECSC, Euratom and the European Economic Community).


See Competition and merger policy.

Messina Conference

In 1954 plans to create a European Defence Community (to replace the national armies of Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries with a common defence force) collapsed when France refused to ratify the Treaty. The 'Six' thereupon turned their attention to the idea of a customs union, meeting at Messina in 1955 to entrust Paul-Henri Spaak of Belgium with the production of the report which led to the 1957 Treaty of Rome and the formation of the EEC, or Common Market.

The UK sent an emissary to the Messina Conference to argue the case for a free trade area, but did not attend the Conference officially, an omission to which British Europhiles attribute many of their country's subsequent difficulties with Europe. The diagnosis appears flawed. The Six paid no attention to the British position. Nor could the UK have lightly abandoned Commonwealth trade, cheap food and the Anglo-American nuclear alliance in favour of expensive French farm produce, a protectionist Community and Euratom. Thus Charles de Gaulle, who saw the incompatibility clearsightedly, had good reason to veto the UK's entry throughout the 1960s, even if he was also motivated by the wish to avoid having a rival for European leadership.

Mitterrand, François (1916-96)

Few more subtle politicians than François Mitterrand have held centre stage in Europe. A Vichyite until the war turned against Germany, thereafter a devotee of the Resistance, he was twice defeated in French presidential elections before finally becoming president in 1981, a position he held until the year before his death.

Mitterrand's tenure of office was marked initially by nationalisations of French companies and other manifestations of socialism, followed by a retreat to the centre ground and reprivatisation in response to electoral setbacks to his Socialist Party in the Assembly. With Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Commission President Jacques Delors, who were his political contemporaries and closest allies, he was one of the architects of the Maastricht Treaty. Viscerally hostile to German reunification, he conceived the Treaty as a bargain. Germany would be allowed to reunite; in return, France would dilute the power of the Bundesbank by incorporating the D-Mark into an EU-wide monetary system. Together, France and Germany would continue to decide the fate of Europe, as they had under his and Kohl's predecessors, first Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer and subsequently Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and Helmut Schmidt.

Mitterrand's political position was progressively eroded by domestic problems. His policy of matching the strength of the D-Mark at any cost led to an overvalued franc and was one of the causes of growing unemployment. Scandal followed scandal in political and business circles, undermining popular faith in the French élites. Obsessed with grandeur, Mitterrand lavished public money on prestige projects, but did little to modernise the economy and equip it to meet the challenge of globalisation. In 1992 he put the Maastricht Treaty to a referendum, in expectation of a ringing endorsement, but won approval by the narrowest of margins.

His attitude to Margaret Thatcher was one of mingled fascination and confrontation. Although he supported her in the Falklands War and it was under his presidency that the British rebate was finally agreed, they opposed each other over the EU at every turn. He was an integrationist; she believed in a Europe of sovereign nations. He was protectionist; she was a free trader. He (with Kohl) created the Franco-German Eurocorps; she was convinced that security rested solely on NATO and the Atlantic Alliance. He was a complex intriguer, capable of considerable deviousness, whereas she was not averse to taking her opponents head on.

Mitterrand's declining years were spent trying to create a legend of his own life story to pre-empt the possibly chillier judgment of historians. In Europe, he will be remembered chiefly for his political adroitness and his calculated devotion to the Franco-German relationship.

Mixed agreement

An agreement falling within the competence both of the EU and of the member states.


See Small countries.

Monetary Committee

Now replaced by the Economic and Financial Committee, the secretive Monetary Committee, composed of senior officials of the member states and the Commission, was for many years the Community's most influential adviser on financial affairs.

Monnet, Jean (1888-1979)

A French statesman and technocrat, Jean Monnet was the authentic architect of what became the EU. Starting as a cognac salesman, he soon graduated to financial planning, spending his World War I years in London and moving on to the League of Nations. World War II found him in Washington as an adopted British official, after his dramatic proposal to unite the UK and France into a single country had been agreed by Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, but had failed to prevent his country's surrender. Returning to France, and charged with designing French economic recovery, he was the brains behind the 1950 Schuman Plan and the European Coal and Steel Community, of which he was the first president. When his other great project, the European Defence Community, failed, Monnet withdrew from public office in 1955 to form the Action Committee for the United States of Europe, a lobby group which played an influential part in the Messina Conference and the subsequent creation of the EEC.

Never a member of any party, Monnet was convinced that a united Europe was essential to peace and could only come about through supranational institutions capable of overriding sovereign democracies - a view sharply at odds with that of de Gaulle, with whom he was in constant conflict during the 1960s. Knowing that supranationalism lacked popular appeal, he developed the 'Monnet method' of 'integration by stealth', in which unification was advanced policy by policy without the ultimate goal being made clear. A pragmatist, though with a consistent vision of Europe's destiny, Monnet hoped that the UK would play a full part in the Community once the British saw that its institutions were actually working.


Morocco applied to join the Community in 1987 but was rejected as not being a European country.


In 1993, Mostar, a town in Bosnia, was the scene of intense fighting between Croats and Muslims. The following year, the EU took on the administration of Mostar as a 'joint action' under the Common Foreign and Security Policy. This initiative, designed to demonstrate the EU's maturity as an international force, proved an expensive failure.

Multi-fibre Arrangement (MFA)

The MFA is a tariff and quota arrangement between the EU, the USA and developing countries to protect the declining textiles industries of the advanced nations against low-cost imports. Under the 1994 GATT negotiations, the MFA is supposed to be phased out by 2004.

Mutual recognition

The principle of mutual recognition, whether of product standards or professional qualifications, is central to the operation of the single market. If each member state were to accept goods and services from the other member states as freely as domestic goods and services, the need for excessive harmonisation would fall away, and with it much of the apparatus of integration. In 1979 the Cassis de Dijon judgment of the European Court of Justice established that a product lawfully made and sold in one EC country could not be prohibited, except on public health grounds, from sale in another (important though this case was, it did not, however, stem the flow of harmonising legislation that followed in the late 1980s and the 1990s).

Professional services proved a more difficult area, since not only were national qualifications jealously guarded but the regulatory systems differed from one country to the next. Nevertheless, after negotiations which in some cases, such as that of architects, took 15 years or more to complete, by 1987 doctors, vets, dentists and midwives were able, at least in theory, to practise throughout the EU, as were lawyers, architects and pharmacists. Subsequent Directives further eased the mutual recognition of all qualifications acquired after not less than three years' training. Such discrimination as remains is generally based on creative interpretation of the exceptions permitted under Community law.

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