Second- and Third-Pillar policies
The policies covered under the Second and Third Pillars concern areas not related to the
market. They encompass foreign and security issues, and justice and home affairs
(referred to post-Amsterdam as ‘police and judicial cooperation on criminal matters’).
They are handled at the intergovernmental level, reserving a central role for the Council
of Ministers. They are about the creation of a political community or ‘polity’. Had the
Constitutional Treaty been ratified, the three pillars would have been merged together.
At Maastricht, the structure for the proposed European Union was created on the basis of three pillars. The First Pillar built upon the existing European Community and therefore allowed the Commission, Council and Parliament to exercise their full powers. The others were concerned with areas that had nothing to do with the market or the supranational institutions involved in its running. Foreign and security policy and justice and home affairs were placed under the primary jurisdiction of the Council of Ministers, although since the TEU was signed there have been changes to the handling of issues relating to the Third Pillar.
An indication of the desire to expand the Union’s role in the lives of its inhabitants was to grant citizenship of the European Union to all people who held nationality of an EU member state. This conferred limited rights, including the right to move freely within the Union (without, as previously, having to prove that one was economically active or a close family member of someone who was); the right to use the embassy and consular services of any other member state if one’s own country lacked diplomatic representation; the right of citizens residing in a member state to vote in that state in municipal and EP elections, or indeed to stand for election; and finally the right to petition the European Parliament and apply to the ombudsman.
The decisions to establish these new pillars at the Maastricht Summit reflected the wish of the majority of member states to advance beyond the old Community and create a new Union which would move into less familiar areas of cooperation and thereby create a new political community. Because it is concerned with domestic issues within the European Union with which we have been dealing so far, we turn first to the Third Pillar.
At Maastricht, a new deal was reached on the policing of internal security through the Europol system, which would mean the abolition of border checks within the boundaries of the EU. The main advocate for the removal of internal