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EU health check - how are bloc's vital signs 25 years since Maastricht?

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By Chris Harris
EU health check - how are bloc's vital signs 25 years since Maastricht?

It’s 25 years since EU leaders signed the Maastricht Treaty, the agreement that paved the way for the modern-day European Union.

This anniversary – coupled with the existential crisis engulfing the bloc in the aftermath of Brexit – is a good moment to reflect on progress since February 7, 1992.

Although the agreement didn’t come into force until 1993, we’ve taken its signing as the starting point to look at a few key indicators.

One of the key planks of the Treaty of the European Union (also known as the Maastricht Treaty) was laying the foundations for the bloc’s single currency, the Euro.

To this end, countries were given strict criteria to get their economies in shape for Economic and Monetary Union.

One of these was ensuring that government debt was less than 60 percent of GDP.

But, as our first chart shows, few countries have actually met this target over the last quarter of a century.

GDP per capita, a key indicator of a country’s wealth and economic strength, has grown steadily since 1992, taking a dip around the time of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

As the chart shows, Greece and Ireland were among the countries whose GDP per capita were worst hit during the economic downturn.

This is how countries’ populations have grown during the era of the EU.

Many of the bloc’s strongest economies have seen big population increases – France’s has gone up by nearly 10 million.

Romania’s has been decreasing, in part due to migration, compounded by the country joining the EU in 2007.

Life expectancy has increased steadily over the last quarter of a century in the EU states we studied below.

Bulgaria and Romania saw growth in their citizens’ life expectancy up until 2014, when both saw their figures drop back slightly.

One of the goals of the Maastricht Treaty was to achieve a high-level of employment.

However, as this chart shows, Greece, Spain and Portugal’s unemployment rates are at record highs since the founding of the EU in 1992.

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