On February 7, 1992, the leaders of the then twelve members of the EU agreed on an ambitious document that heralded a number of major achievements, above all the creation of a single currency, the euro.
Fifteen years ago this month a treaty was signed in the Dutch city of Maastricht that sowed the seeds of what has become a major part of everyday life for 316m people across the EU: a common currency, the euro.
Although not introduced until 2002, the euro owes its existence to the economic and monetary union (EMU) between members of the EU, which came out of the Maastricht treaty. Officially called the treaty on European Union, Maastricht heralded freer movement of capital, common economic policies between countries and, in 1998, the European Central Bank (ECB), which oversees the euro.
European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Joaquin Almunia sums up the benefits: "The euro is the most powerful symbol of European integration. The euro has protected us from external shocks and given Europe a stronger role globally."
But the results of the historic signing weren't just limited to the euro and other financial moves. The Maastricht treaty expanded the scope of the EU, leading to a common foreign and security policy and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
The Maastricht treaty was updated by the treaties of Amsterdam (1997) and Nice (2001). But so far it has been impossible to adopt a constitution for Europe, which would replace all the existing treaties.
Although the constitution is still a thorny issue, the town of Maastricht will be celebrating success achieved so far, and intends to mark the anniversary of the signing in style with a European focus to its annual film festival, a food festival in summer and a gathering of some 2 000 entrepreneurs and top managers at the junior chamber European congress in June.
Video - the treaty being signed