4. Why Maastricht?
The European summit was held in Maastricht in December 1991, when the Netherlands held the six-monthly presidency of the European Community. Major European summits now take place in Brussels, but in those days they were also organised by the country that held the rotating EC presidency.
The Dutch government chose Maastricht partly because of its proximity to Brussels, which was already the main locus of European meetings. Maastricht was also appealing because it possessed the necessary experience, having previously organised a European summit in 1981.
The Maastricht summit of 9 and 10 December 1991 became an exciting affair. All heads of government of the European Community were present, including the French president François Mitterrand, the German chancellor Helmut Kohl and the British prime minister John Major. Their officials and advisers, working with the European Commission and the Netherlands as EC president, had already prepared most of the agreements made in Maastricht during feverish negotiations leading up to the summit. But despite the intensive preparations, it was by no means certain that the summit would succeed; the creation of the EU was hanging by a thread.