Treaty of Amsterdam

The Treaty of Amsterdam, officially the Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts, was signed on 2 October 1997, and entered into force on 1 May 1999;[1] it made substantial changes to the Treaty of Maastricht, which had been signed in 1992.

Under the Treaty of Amsterdam, member states agreed to transfer certain powers from national governments to the European Parliament across diverse areas, including legislating on immigration, adopting civil and criminal laws, and enacting foreign and security policy (CFSP), as well as implementing institutional changes for expansion as new member nations join the EU.

Treaty of Amsterdam
Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts
European leaders in Amsterdam, 1997
TypeAmender of the TEU, the TEC, the TEAEC, and the TECSC
Signed2 October 1997
LocationAmsterdam, Netherlands
Effective1 May 1999
DepositaryGovernment of Italy
CitationsPrior amendment treaty:
Maastricht Treaty (1992)
Subsequent amendment treaty: Nice Treaty (2001)
Treaty of Amsterdam at Wikisource

After amendments made by the Amsterdam Treaty:
Consolidated version of EURATOM treaty (1997)

Consolidated version of the ECSC treaty (1997)

Consolidated version of TEC (1997)

Consolidated version of TEU (1997)


The treaty was the result of long negotiations which began in Messina, Italy, on 2 June 1995, nearly forty years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, and reached completion in Amsterdam on 18 June 1997. Following the formal signing of the Treaty on 2 October 1997, the Member States engaged in an equally long and complex ratification process. The European Parliament endorsed the treaty on 19 November 1997, and after two referendums and 13 decisions by parliaments, the Member States finally concluded the procedure.


The treaty of Amsterdam comprises 13 Protocols, 51 Declarations adopted by the Conference, and 8 Declarations by Member States, plus amendments to the existing Treaties set out in 15 Articles. Article 1 (containing 16 paragraphs) amends the general provisions of the Treaty on European Union and covers the CFSP and cooperation in criminal and police matters. The next four Articles (70 paragraphs) amend the EC Treaty, the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty (which expired in 2002), the Euratom Treaty, and the Act concerning the election of the European Parliament. The final provisions contain four Articles. The new Treaty also set out to simplify the Community Treaties, deleting more than 56 obsolete articles and renumbering the rest in order to make the whole more legible. By way of example, Article 189b on the codecision procedure became Article 251.

The most pressing concerns of ordinary Europeans, such as their legal and personal security, immigration, and fraud prevention, were all dealt with in other chapters of the Treaty. In particular, the EU became responsible for legislating on immigration, civil law or civil procedure, insofar as this is necessary for the free movement of persons within the EU. At the same time, intergovernmental co-operation was intensified in the police and criminal justice field so that Member States should be able to coordinate their activities more effectively. The Union aims to establish an area of freedom, security and justice for its citizens. The Schengen Agreements have now been incorporated into the legal system of the EU (Ireland and the United Kingdom remained outside the Schengen agreement, see Common Travel Area for details).

The Treaty lays down new principles and responsibilities in the field of the common foreign and security policy, with the emphasis on projecting the EU's values to the outside world, protecting its interests, and reforming its modes of action. The European Council will lay down common strategies, which will then be put into effect by the Council acting by a qualified majority, subject to certain conditions. In other cases, some Member States may choose to abstain "constructively", i.e. without actually preventing actions being taken.

The treaty introduced a High Representative for EU Foreign Policy who, together with the Presidents of the Council and the European Commission, puts a "name and a face" on EU policy to the outside world. Although the Amsterdam Treaty did not provide for a common defence, it did increase the EU's responsibilities for peacekeeping and humanitarian work, in particular by forging closer links with Western European Union.

As for the institutions, there were two major reforms concerning the co-decision procedure (the legislative procedure involving the European Parliament and the Council), affecting its scope—most legislation was adopted by the co-decision procedure—and its detailed procedures, with Parliament playing a much stronger role. The President of the Commission will also have to earn the personal trust of Parliament, which will give him the authority to lay down the Commission's policy guidelines and play an active part in choosing the Members of the Commission by deciding on their appointment by common accord with the national governments. These provisions make the Commission more politically accountable, particularly vis-à-vis the European Parliament. Finally, the new Treaty enables, under very strict conditions, closer co-operation between Member States which so wish. Closer co-operation may be established, on a proposal from the Commission, in cases where it is not possible to take joint action, provided that such steps do not undermine the coherence of the EU or the rights and equality of its citizens.


The Amsterdam Treaty did not settle all institutional questions. Work was still in progress on reforming the institutions to make them capable of operating effectively and democratically in a much enlarged EU. The most pressing issues were the composition of the Commission and the weighting of Member States' votes upon qualified majority voting. These questions were addressed in the Treaty of Lisbon.


Amsterdam Treaty FA Belgium Amsterdam Treaty FA Denmark Amsterdam Treaty FA Finland Amsterdam Treaty FA France Amsterdam Treaty FA Greece Amsterdam Treaty FA Ireland Amsterdam Treaty FA Italy Amsterdam Treaty FA Luxembourg Amsterdam Treaty FA the Netherlands
 Belgium  Denmark  Finland  France  Greece  Ireland  Italy  Luxembourg  Netherlands
Amsterdam Treaty FA Portugal Amsterdam Treaty FA Spain Amsterdam Treaty FA the United Kingdom Amsterdam Treaty FA Sweden Amsterdam Treaty FA Germany Amsterdam Treaty Austria
 Portugal  Spain  UK  Sweden  Germany  Austria

EU evolution timeline

In force:
Maastricht Treaty (TEU)
Amsterdam Treaty
Content: (est. alliance) (founded WU) (founded ECSC) (protocol amending WU to become WEU) (founded EEC and EURATOM) (merging the legislative & administrative bodies of the 3 European communities) (founded TREVI) (amended: EURATOM, ECSC, EEC)+
(founded EPC)
(founded Schengen)
(implemented Schengen)
(amended: EURATOM, ECSC, and EEC to transform it into EC)+
(founded: JHA+CFSP)
(amended: EURATOM, ECSC, EC to also contain Schengen, and TEU where PJCC replaced JHA) (amended with focus on institutional changes: EURATOM, ECSC, EC and TEU) (abolished the 3 pillars and WEU by amending: EURATOM, EC=>TFEU, and TEU)
(founded EU as an overall legal unit with Charter of Fundamental Rights, and reformed governance structures & decision procedures)
Three pillars of the European Union:  
European Communities
(with a single Commission & Council)
European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)   
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
    European Economic Community (EEC)   European Community (EC)
        Schengen Rules  
    Terrorism, Radicalism, Extremism and Violence Internationally (TREVI) Justice and Home Affairs
  Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC)
  European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Franco-British alliance Western Union (WU) Western European Union (WEU)    
Treaty terminated in 2011    

See also


  1. ^ Text of "Treaty of Amsterdam"

External links

1999 European Parliament election in Spain

The 1999 European Parliament election in Spain was held on Sunday, 13 June 1999, as part of the EU-wide election to elect the 5th European Parliament. All 64 seats allocated to Spain as per the Treaty of Amsterdam were up for election. The election was held simultaneously with regional elections in thirteen autonomous communities and local elections all throughout Spain.

Area of freedom, security and justice

The area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) is a collection of home affairs and justice policies designed to ensure security, rights and free movement within the European Union (EU). Areas covered include the harmonisation of private international law, extradition arrangements between member states, policies on internal and external border controls, common travel visa, immigration and asylum policies and police and judicial cooperation.

As internal borders have been removed within the EU, cross-border police cooperation has had to increase to counter cross-border crime. Some notable projects related to the area are the European Arrest Warrant, the Schengen Area and Frontex patrols.

Chacón Navas v Eurest Colectividades SA

Chacón Navas v Eurest Colectividades SA (2006) C-13/05 is an EU labour law case that sets forth a uniform definition of disability in the European Union. Both the Treaty of Amsterdam and the EU Framework Directive on Employment left open the definition of disability, which allowed the Court to adopt its own definition.

The judgment has been criticised by academics as potentially being too close to a medical model of disability (although it does not require medical diagnosis of a disability), rather than the social model of disability.

Competition Act 1998

The Competition Act 1998 is the current major source of competition law in the United Kingdom, along with the Enterprise Act 2002. The act provides an updated framework for identifying and dealing with restrictive business practices and abuse of a dominant market position.

One of the main purposes of this act was to harmonise the UK with EU competition policy, with Chapter I and II of the act mirroring the content of Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty of Amsterdam (formally Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty of Rome).

Consent procedure

The consent procedure (formerly assent procedure) is one of the special legislative procedures of the European Union.

Cooperation procedure

The cooperation procedure (formally known as the Article 252 procedure) was one of the principal legislative procedures of the European Community, before the entrance into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam. It was retained after that treaty but only in a few areas. It was finally repealed by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009.

The procedure's introduction by the Single European Act marked the first step toward real power for the European Parliament. Under the procedure the Council could, with the support of Parliament and acting on a proposal by the Commission, adopt a legislative proposal by a qualified majority, but the Council could also overrule a rejection of a proposed law by the Parliament by adopting a proposal unanimously.Prior to the Amsterdam Treaty the procedure covered a wide variety of legislation, notably in relation to the creation of the Single Market. It was amended by that treaty when its replacement with the codecision procedure failed to be agreed. The Nice Treaty limited the procedure to certain aspects of economic and monetary union.The cooperation procedure was repealed by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers

DG Justice, Freedom and Security was split in 2010. For Home Affairs (security), see Directorate-General for Home Affairs (European Commission).The Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST) is a Directorate-General of the European Commission. The role of the body is to ensure that the whole European Union (EU) is an area of freedom, security and justice. The specific tasks and responsibilities of the DG are laid down by the Treaty of Rome (see Part Two, Articles 17-22; Part Three, Title III, Articles 39-47), the Treaty of Amsterdam which came into force on 1 May 1999 and the conclusions of the European Council meeting in Tampere (Finland) in October 1999.

The relevant Commissioner is the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality (formerly European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship).

Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

The Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1998 (previously bill no. 1 of 1998) is an amendment of the Constitution of Ireland which permitted the state to ratify the Treaty of Amsterdam. It was approved by referendum on 22 May 1998 and signed into law on the 3 June of the same year. The referendum was held on the same day as the referendum on Nineteenth Amendment, which related to approval of the Good Friday Agreement.

European Central Bank

The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank for the euro and administers monetary policy of the Eurozone, which consists of 19 EU member states and is one of the largest currency areas in the world. It is one of the world's most important central banks and is one of the seven institutions of the European Union (EU) listed in the Treaty on European Union (TEU). The capital stock of the bank is owned by the central banks of all 28 EU member states. The Treaty of Amsterdam established the bank in 1998, and it is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. As of 2015 the President of the ECB is Mario Draghi, former governor of the Bank of Italy, former member of the World Bank, and former managing director of the Goldman Sachs international division (2002–2005). The bank primarily occupied the Eurotower prior to, and during, the construction of the new headquarters.

The primary objective of the ECB, mandated in Article 2 of the Statute of the ECB, is to maintain price stability within the Eurozone. Its basic tasks, set out in Article 3 of the Statute, are to set and implement the monetary policy for the Eurozone, to conduct foreign exchange operations, to take care of the foreign reserves of the European System of Central Banks and operation of the financial market infrastructure under the TARGET2 payments system and the technical platform (currently being developed) for settlement of securities in Europe (TARGET2 Securities). The ECB has, under Article 16 of its Statute, the exclusive right to authorise the issuance of euro banknotes. Member states can issue euro coins, but the amount must be authorised by the ECB beforehand.

The ECB is governed by European law directly, but its set-up resembles that of a corporation in the sense that the ECB has shareholders and stock capital. Its capital is €11 billion held by the national central banks of the member states as shareholders. The initial capital allocation key was determined in 1998 on the basis of the states' population and GDP, but the capital key has been adjusted. Shares in the ECB are not transferable and cannot be used as collateral.

European Employment Strategy

The 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam introduced the concept of a European Employment Strategy (EES), following on from the integrated strategy for employment launched at the Essen European Council in December 1994.

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (abbreviated HR or HR/VP, the latter reflecting the vice presidency of the Commission) is the chief co-ordinator and representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) within the European Union (EU). The position is currently held by Federica Mogherini.

The post was created under the Treaty of Amsterdam as the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy; it then was occupied by Javier Solana for ten years until it was aggrandised following the Lisbon Treaty providing a seat on the European Commission and chair of the council of EU foreign ministers. Following the Lisbon Treaty the post is assisted by the European External Action Service (EEAS) that was set up in December 2010.

History of the European Union (1993–2004)

The history of the European Union between 1993 and 2004 was the period between its creation (replacing the European Economic Community) and the 2004 enlargement. The European Union was created at the dawn of the post–Cold War era and saw a series of successive treaties laying the ground for the euro, foreign policy and future enlargement. Three new member states joined the previous twelve in this period and the European Economic Area extended the reach of the EU's markets to three more.

However the Union would face criticism with its inability to deal with the crisis in the former Yugoslavia and allegations of fraud in the European Commission which led to its mass resignation in 1999. Although the Commission's fall was seen as a victory for the European Parliament, it would further entrench the euroscepticism of the post-Delors era and lead to the Socialists losing their status as largest party held since elections began. In the following Prodi Commission, the Commission, foreign policy and anti-fraud measures would be strengthened.

Ioannina compromise

The Ioannina compromise (also spelled Joanina) takes its name from an informal meeting of foreign ministers of the states of the European Union which took place in the Greek city of Ioannina on 27 March 1994.

Among the decisions taken at the meeting was a Council decision on the question of qualified majority voting in an enlarged 16-member European Community. The decision was later adjusted in the light of Norway's decision not to join.

The resulting compromise laid down that if members of the Council representing between 23 votes (the old blocking minority threshold) and 26 votes (the new threshold) expressed their intention of opposing the taking of a decision by the Council by qualified majority, the Council will do all within its power, within a reasonable period of time, to reach a satisfactory solution that can be adopted by at least 68 votes out of 87.

A declaration annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam extended this compromise until the next enlargement took effect. The Ioannina compromise was superseded by the provisions of the Treaty of Nice.

It came up again during the negotiations about the Treaty of Lisbon on 21 and 22 June 2007 in Brussels. From 2014 to 31 March 2017, a new version of the 1994 Ioannina compromise was in effect, which allowed a potential blocking minority to block discussion of a matter before it could be put up for vote under qualified majority.

Jaap de Zwaan

Jaap de Zwaan (born 1949 in Amsterdam) is a Dutch lawyer and legal scholar. Since 1998, he is Professor of the Law of the European Union at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. He was Director of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael from 2005 to 2011. From 1979 to 1998, he worked for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He acted as Agent for the Dutch Government in numerous cases before the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg. He was involved in the negotiations on and the drafting of several European treaties, such as the Treaties of Accession of Spain and Portugal to the European Communities, the European Single Act and the Treaty of Amsterdam.He received a law degree from Leiden University in 1972 and attended the College of Europe in Bruges 1972-1973. In 1993 he received a doctorate in law from Groningen University. He was President of the Alumni Association of the College of Europe 1984-1988.

Opt-outs in the European Union

In general, the law of the European Union is valid in all of the twenty-eight European Union member states. However, occasionally member states negotiate certain opt-outs from legislation or treaties of the European Union, meaning they do not have to participate in certain policy areas. Currently, four states have such opt-outs: United Kingdom (four opt-outs), Denmark (three opt-outs), Republic of Ireland (two opt-outs) and Poland (one opt-out).

This is distinct from the enhanced cooperation, a measure introduced in the Treaty of Amsterdam, whereby a minimum of nine member states are allowed to co-operate within the structure of the European Union without involving other member states, after the European Commission and a qualified majority have approved the measure. It is further distinct from Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification and permanent acquis suspensions, whose lifting is conditional on meeting certain benchmarks by the affected member states.

Race Equality Directive 2000

The Race Equality Directive 2000/43/EC is an Act of the European Union, concerning European labour law. It implements the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin. Since the Treaty of Amsterdam came into force in 1999, new EC laws, or Directives, have been enacted in the area of anti-discrimination, and this Directive complements other Directives on gender and age, disability, religion and sexual orientation.

Referendums related to the European Union

This is a list of referendums related to the European Union, or referendums related to the European Communities, which were predecessors of the European Union. Since 1972, a total of 48 referendums have been held by EU member states, candidate states, and their territories, with several additional referendums held in countries outside of the EU. The referendums have been held most commonly on the subject of whether to become a member of European Union as part of the accession process, although the EU does not require any candidate country to hold a referendum to approve membership or as part of treaty ratification. Other EU-related referendums have been held on the adoption of the euro and on participation in other EU-related policies.

The United Kingdom is the only EU member state to have held referendums on continued membership of the European Union and its antecedent organisation, the European Communities. In the first referendum in 1975, continued membership of what was then the European Communities (which included the European Economic Community, often referred to as the Common Market in the UK) was approved by 67.2% of voters, while in its second referendum in 2016 voters voted by 51.9% to leave the European Union.Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark, voted to leave the EC in a referendum in 1982 by 53% of voters.

Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union

The Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union heads the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. In April 2015, the Council appointed the Danish diplomat Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen as the next Secretary-General of the Council for the period from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2020.Previously, the post holder was also the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, President of the European Defence Agency and the Western European Union. The Treaty of Amsterdam created the office of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and specified that the Secretary-General would occupy that position simultaneously. Javier Solana exercised both functions from 1999 until 2009. The Lisbon Treaty redefined the post of High Representative and again separated it from the office of Secretary-General of the Council.

As of 2010, the Secretary-General's basic pay is equal to that of a top-tier civil servant: €17,697.68 per month.

List of Secretaries-General


Unanimity is agreement by all people in a given situation. Groups may consider unanimous decisions as a sign of agreement, solidarity, and unity. Unanimity may be assumed explicitly after a unanimous vote or implicitly by a lack of objections. It does not necessarily mean uniformity and can sometimes be the opposite of majority in terms of outcomes.

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