IP 325 European Integration. Spring Semester 2011/2012 27.02.2012. The 70´- Decade of Strengthening.
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Jacques Delors, president of the European Commission, summarised the main objectives of the Single European Act in the following way:
"The Single Act means, in a few words, the commitment of implementing simultaneously the great market without frontiers, more economic and social cohesion, an European research and technology policy, the strengthening of the European Monetary System, the beginning of an European social area and significant actions in environment„.
The Single European Act entailed an important step forward in the integration process. The president of the Commission, Jacques Delors, was the main figure. This French socialist, not only promoted the economic and monetary union as a key element in the integration process, but tried to balance the advancements on free trade, that benefited managers directly, by proposing the passing of a Social Charter that would guarantee some social minimum standards to every European worker.
"To try to suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the centre of a European conglomerate would be highly damaging (...) We certainly do not need new regulations which raise the cost of employment and make Europe's labour market less flexible and less competitive with overseas suppliers (...) And certainly we in Britain would fight attempts to introduce collectivism and corporatism at the European level - although what people wish to do in their own countries is a matter for them".
The treaty created what was commonly referred to as the pillar structure of the European Union. The treaty established the three pillars of the European Union -- the European Community (EC) pillar, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar, and the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar. The first pillar was where the EU's supra-national institutions — the Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice — had the most power and influence. The other two pillars were essentially more intergovernmental in nature with decisions being made by committees composed of member states' politicians and officials.
The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar took care of Foreign policy:
The Maastricht criteria (also known as the convergence criteria) are the criteria for European Union member states to enter the third stage of European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and adopt the euro as their currency. The 4 main criteria are based on Article 121(1) of the European Community Treaty.
1. Inflation rates: No more than 1.5 percentage points higher than the average of the three best performing (lowest inflation) member states of the EU;
2. Annual government deficit: The ratio of the annual government deficit to gross domestic product (GDP) must not exceed 3% at the end of the preceding fiscal year. Only exceptional and temporary excesses would be granted.
3. Applicant country should have joined the exchange-rate mechanism (ERM II) under the European Monetary System (EMS) for two consecutive years and should not have devalued its currency during the period;
4. Long-term interest rates: The nominal long-term interest rate must not be more than 2 percentage points higher than in the three lowest inflation member states.
One of the major innovations established by the Treaty is the creation of European citizenship over and above national citizenship. Every citizen who is a national of a Member State is also a citizen of the Union. This citizenship vests new rights in Europeans:
Main changes brought about by the Amsterdam Treaty in the areas of: