Maastricht Treaty celebrations tempered by euro critics


The city of Maastricht is to host a conference marking the 15th anniversary of the signing of the 1992 Treaty, which paved the way for the euro. However, the French presidential candidates are critical of ECB policy.

On 7 February 2007, it will be exactly 15 years since the Treaty of Maastricht was signed in 1992, which preceded the launch of the European single currency in 1999. 

But, even eight years on, many countries are still wary of the euro, according to a recent poll carried out by the Financial Times (EURACTIV 29/01/07). More recently, France’s leading presidential candidates, Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal have criticised European Central Bank (ECB) policy, saying that it has impeded economic growth.

The criticisms raised are:

  • The ECB’s independence;
  • the lack of legal status for the Eurogroup chaired by Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, and;
  • the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), which critics say focuses too much on stability rather than growth, especially in comparison with its US-counterpart, the Fed.

Maastricht and the Province of Limburg will host a conference on 7 February 2007. Participants include Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering, Belgian Minister of State Willy Claes, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as Council of Europe President René van der Linden. A special focus of the discussions will be Europe’s economy and the euro, relations between the EU and its citizens and the future of the EU.

French President Jacques Chirac recently criticised the ECB, saying that euro appreciation was a comparative disadvantage to Europe's competitiveness and exports.

German Chancellor and currently holding the EU presidency, Angela Merkel said: "I am following with great concern the discussion in several countries, especially now in France during the election campaign, about the European Central Bank." She added: "We need the political independence of the ECB."

Ahead of the anniversary celebrations, Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative MEP said: "I believe we have a great opportunity to lead Europe in a new direction; to move away from the Maastricht culture of centralisation and regulation, towards a new flexibility and dynamism; to reform the EU so that it looks outwards to the world, not inwards to itself."

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister and Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Many people elsewhere in Europe are growing increasingly complacent about the European project and the European ideal and there is even a worrying tendency to turn the back on some of the great achievements of the European project. This tendency does not stop before the euro. Since its creation the euro has proven to be a massive success, even exceeding the expectations of the biggest optimists."

The Maastricht Treaty provided the foundation for the introduction of the euro. With Slovenia, which joined on 1 January 2007, there are now 13 EU member states in the eurozone.

Subscribe to our newsletters