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The Single European Act

An important development in 1986 was the signing by the then 12 Member States of the Single European Act (SEA). A White Paper issued by the Commission in 1985 had revealed that despite the Community's long existence, many barriers still ex­isted to the achievement of the single internal market. The result was a new treaty, the SEA. The principal purpose of the SEA was to eliminate the remaining barriers to the single internal market within the deadline of 31 December 1992, to be achieved by a massive programme of harmonisation. In addition, the SEA extended the sphere of Community competence and introduced a number of pro­cedural changes designed to accelerate the Community decision-making process. The SEA undoubtedly injected a new dynamism into Community affairs. By February 1992, 218 of the 282 proposals forming the complete pro­gramme for the completion of the internal market had been adopted. Although the 1992 programme reached its termination date, it is important to remember that the provisions the SEA introduced remain and are still used as a basis for legislation, as barriers to the internal remain even now. Note also that legislation may be enacted but, to a large extent is dependent on Member States for implementation, and that this may be where the real difficulty lies.

Treaty on European Union

The late 1980s saw a growing movement within the Community towards closer European union. In December 1989, two intergovermental conferences were con­vened pursuant to cooperation procedures introduced by the SEA to consider the questions of

(a) economic and monetary union and

(b) political union.

The confer­ences, which lasted for a year, resulted in the signing, at Maastricht, on 7 February 1992, of the TEU.

The TEU comprised two distinct parts. One part (Article G, renumbered Article 8 following the ratification of the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty ('ToA') which, in pursuit of greater coherence, renumbered most of the articles of both the EC Treaty and the TEU), consisting of 86 paragraphs, introduced substantial amendments to the EEC Treaty, and renamed it the European Community (EC) Treaty, reflecting its wider purposes.

The second part of the TEU (Articles 1-7 and 9-53: Articles A-F and H-S respect­ively as originally provided in the TEU), representing the political pillar of the trea­ty, stood as a separate treaty establishing the European Union (Article 1 (ex A)). It set out a number of general principles (Articles 1-7 (ex A-F)) and provided specif­ically for cooperation, with a view to adopting joint action, in the field of foreign and security policy (FSP), and eventually defence (Articles 11-28 (ex J)) and for cooperation and the framing of common policies in justice and home affairs (JHA). These two areas of cooperation came to be referred to as the second and third pillars respectively of the European Union. The remaining pillar is the EC, together with Euratom and, prior to its expiry in 2002, ECSC. The commu­nities comprising this pillar, referred to as the first pillar of the Union, are together called the European Communities.

The TEU was due to come into effect on 1 January 1993, following ratification as required by all Member States. As a result of difficulties, political and legal, caus­ing delay in ratification in some Member States (notably the UK, Denmark, and Germany), the treaty did not enter into force until 1 November 1993. From that date the EEC Treaty became the EC Treaty, and will henceforth be referred to as such In this book, except where the term EEC is needed for reasons of historical accuracy. The term European Union (EU), introduced in Article 1 (ex A) of the TEU to describe the union of Member States as comprised under the European Community treaties and the TEU, is not strictly applicable to matters of law relating to the EC Treaty, although it is widely used in that context. The law emanating from JHA and common foreign and security policy (CFSP) may be referred to as EU law. For the most part, these areas fall outside the scope of this book. Nonetheless, although there are occasions when we might properly continue to distinguish between the EU and the EC, given the intention to remove the distinction evidenced by first the Constitutional Treaty and the Treaty of Lisbon , the term EC will be replaced throughout this book to avoid confusion. There are two exceptions to this approach: first, references to the Treaty of Rome (as amended) will continue to be to the EC Treaty (except where we are discussing proposals made by Lisbon); and, secondly, where context (for exam­ple historical accuracy), requires a distinction to be made between EC and EU.

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