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Looking back on the Maastricht Treaty

“We focused too much on the rules, instead of on who should apply those rules.” Former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok made this comment about the Maastricht Treaty – the treaty that led to the introduction of the euro – at the conference The Maastricht Treaty: taking stock after 20 years on Tuesday in the Statenzaal of the Limburg Government building where the treaty was signed exactly twenty years ago, in 1992. Kok was part of a round table conversation, which also included Enrique Barón Crespo, former President of the European Parliament, and Henning Christophersen, former Vice-President of the European Commission.

The three men gave insights on what happened behind the scenes during the drafting of the treaty. They also commented on the decisions made then in the light of today’s crisis. “We’ve had crises before the euro,” said Christophersen. “If we go back now to our own currencies, it will be catastrophic. There’ll be many unforeseen consequences.” Barón Crespo claimed that the euro and the European Union are still very strong. “We just don’t believe in ourselves anymore, that’s the difference with 1992.”

When asked how the EU should proceed, Kok said he “frankly did not know. I’m very glad the climate around the euro has calmed down a bit these last two months, but I have no idea where this will end. I hope we can regain the people’s trust in Europe.”

 

Cleo Freriks

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