The Treaty of Maastricht was signed February 7th, 1992, and came into effect on November 1st, 1993.
Signed in the Netherlands, the agreement between twelve European countries sought to establish an economic, monetary, and political partnership for the Member-states to participate in the world economy as one unit.
Three principles were central to the treaty for the governments and citizens of the Member-States - that there be:
1. a partnership regarding economic, social, and environmental regulations;
2. a widening on matters of foreign policy and defense;
3. deepened cooperation in regards to criminal justice.
A number of laws went into effect at this time too:
- the increasingly tangible notion of a European citizenship (part of this includes points from the Schengen Agreement of 1985 which included fewer signatories, and which granted the freedom of travel for peoples and goods within the eurozone)
- the establishment of a common currency (the Euro came into circulation on January 1st, 1999)
- the European Economic Community (EEC) was formally replaced by the European Union (EU). Its original twelve signatories were: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Today, the EU counts 28 adherents.