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Juncker calls for EU austerity rethink as Maastricht Treaty turns 29

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German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher with his counterparts Hans Van Den Broek; Jacques Poos and Gianni De Michelis after signing the Maastricht Treaty on Feb 7 1992.
German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher with his counterparts Hans Van Den Broek; Jacques Poos and Gianni De Michelis after signing the Maastricht Treaty on Feb 7 1992.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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A former European Commission president has called for a rethink on austerity in the European Union, on the 29th anniversary of the treaty that established the bloc as we know it.

Sunday marked 29 years since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, and the milestone has led EU leaders past and present to reflect on the pact.

Former Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told Euronews he thinks parts of the treaty which favour austerity should be reconsidered.

This revolved around the ‘Golden Rule’, an economics principal in which governments only borrow to invest, not to fund current spending.

"There was a major debate amidst the then 12 member states, the Germans pleading in favour of the Golden Rule - debt-related Golden Rule,” explains Juncker.

“Now the golden rule should be that we have to take into account the concerns related to employment, to social welfare," the former president argues.

The Maastricht treaty, signed on 7 February 1992, set out three pillars, shaping the European Union into what it is today.

One established the single market, another unified the EU’s voice on foreign policy matters, and the third joined together member states on home affairs and justice issues.

It also paved the way for the Euro single currency.

Current Commission president Ursula von der Leyen wants ideas on what the EU should become as it moves forward, and has set up the Conference on the Future of Europe, headed by commissioner Dubravka Šuica, to lead the way.

But 20 years ago a similar idea was put together by then French President Valery Giscard - a failed experiment.

According to Jon Worth, an EU observer and lecturer at the College of Europe, "his convention elaborated a European Constitution which was then voted down by the populations of France and the Netherlands in two referendums.”

“And so the fear in Brussels is that if you open up that Pandora's box of treaty change, then you have the danger that the treaty that you put forward would then be voted down again,” he adds.

Maastricht also set out unanimity voting in foriegn policy which gives every EU country a veto - something which could be updated if the conference results in treaty change.