The Netherlands, 2014
The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 marked the official formal existence of the European Union. The Treaty of the European Union is a pillar structure; the treaty established three pillars of the European Union. The first pillar is a combination of the three former European Communities: ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community), EAEC (European Atomic Energy Community), and the EC (European Economic Community). The first, supranational pillar had the most influence and power. It is comprised of three major EU institutions: The European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, and the Commission. The two other pillars were new and simply representational of intergovernmental committees formed by members’ states. The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar and the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) completed the three pillars.
The Treaty of the European Union began the groundwork of a unified, single currency. The European Union, however, began with 12 states from the previous European Economic Community, a continuation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The original, SCSC, was an established common market, during the post-WWII era, which sought prevention of future conflicts with Germany through economic relationships. The European Union was an extension of the previous formal recognition of economic agreements. The 12 member states were given full European status and any European had the right to move freely between other European states, as well as vote in elections.
France was one of the first to begin European integration during the post-World War II growth and recovery era. The European Coal and Steel Community, in 1951, was originally a French proposition. However, the referendum had only approved the Maastricht Treaty very marginally. France’s modern position in the European Union is very significant and continues to be well represented in the system.
The European Union heavily impacts the economic and political structures within the membered state. Members of the European Union agree to binding laws and other specific obligations. In 2004, the European Union called for legal action against France when accused of violating the EU’s Freedom of Movement directive. Member states are given some legal autonomy, but European Union upholds certain obligations in exchange for equal representation within the legislative and judicial institutions.
The most prominent economic tie in the European Union is the shared, single currency. France adopted the Euro currency in 1999, further eliminating the use of the Franc. The significance of the Euro system under the European Union is more than a monetary regime; it binds sovereign nations in the pursuit of welfare and contributes greatly to trade and price stability in the international monetary system.
When France signed the Maastricht Treaty, officially joining the three-pillar European Union system, France became a key player in an essential international relations system of economic and political unity. However, joining the global economy positions the state to be vulnerable to economic crises from partnering nations. Despite the downfalls of the Euro, France’s strong position in the global system is largely contributed to its membership in the European Union and other international organizations. The systematic use of diplomacy has protected France’s vital interests, as well as prevented another costly and damaging war.