Treaty on European Union

(1992)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

The Maastricht Treaty is not easy reading. It functions in part as a constitution for the EU, laying out goals and principles that govern the union's operations. It also functions as a kind of handbook, specifying policies and procedures, though in most cases the details of these policies and procedures still had to be worked out by the EU's agencies. Much of the treaty consists of amendments to earlier treaties, such as the one governing the ECSC, and a number of its provisions simply incorporate other agreements and treaties signed earlier by the member nations. Thus, it is a document that few people would actually read from beginning to end; rather, it is the type of document that people would consult, if necessary, to seek guidance on particular issues that might arise.

It is nonetheless possible to discern certain themes and principles in the document. Its early portions focus on the overarching goals of the treaty. The opening...