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The Maastricht Treaty, also known as the Treaty of European Union, was the second basic act of European construction following the Treaty of Rome of 27 March 1957. Signed in Maastricht on 7 February 1992, the treaty goes beyond the Community’s initial economic objective of creating a Common Market and gives it a political role. It is the product of two parallel intergovernmental conferences, one devoted to the European Economic and Monetary Union project (EMU), the other to exploring avenues for a future political Union. The Maastricht Treaty came into force on 1 November 1993 and establishes a European Union between the Member States of the Community. The objective is to achieve “an ever closer union between the peoples of Europe�?.
The institutional structure of the Union is defined in terms of three separate pillars: European Community (replacing the Economic Community since its powers are extended to other areas, including education, culture, health and the environment: Common Foreign and Security Policy and Justice and Home Affairs.
The cohesion of these pillars (the first Community, the other two intergovernmental) is ensured by a single institutional framework consisting of the European Council of Heads of State and Government, the Council of Ministers, the Commission, the Parliament and the Court of Justice. The Council plays the essential role since it is competent for all three pillars. The Commission, while being involved in other activities on the Council, has a monopoly only for making proposals for Community affairs. The Parliament plays a consultative role for the second and third pillars and the Court of Justice is practically excluded. The treaty defines the structure and objectives of each of the pillars with a schedule of provisions to be adopted over subsequent years.
From the economic and monetary viewpoint, the decision to create a single currency under the aegis of a central bank completes the economic and monetary integration within the single market.
MEDA (adjustment measures) is an aid programme intended for the countries of the Southern Mediterranean in the form of financial and technical support for economic and social reforms, and for the development of the private sector. This programme is due to end in 2006.
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