What is the Amsterdam Treaty?

The Amsterdam Treaty came into force in 1999.  The main change in the treaty was to split the Justice and Home Affairs ‘pillar’ of the EU into two areas: 1) the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, covering asylum, immigration and judicial co-operation in civil matters, where policies would now be adopted on the basis of a Commission proposal, and by a qualified-majority in the Council and a simple majority in the  European Parliament; and 2) Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters, where policies would continue to be made by intergovernmental co-operation.

The Amsterdam Treaty also made some important changes to the EU institutions: increasing the powers of the European Parliament (to amend and block legislation in a wider range of policy areas and to hold a vote on the nominee for Commission President); and establishing the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy.

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