|The European Rim|
Stretching from Saint Petersburg to Port Said, and from Casablanca to the Caspian Sea, the European Rim encompasses EU candidate countries, the agricultural heartlands of Ukraine and western Russia, the immense oil deposits of the Caspian Sea and the Middle East, and the considerable human and natural resources of North Africa. It is a vast region with great economic challenges, and also great social and political turmoil.
Under the right international conditions, and with the necessary economic reforms, the region of the EU Rim promises to become a major source of economic growth, giving the euro-zone such trade and investment dynamism once associated with the Pacific Rim.
The years to come, will be critical for the European project, and the European Rim. By 2008, the European Union has reached 27 members, and is poised to embrace the remainder of the Balkans. The EU's last round of enlargement has resulted in the accession and the integration of countries from the post Soviet sphere. The promise of further economic co-operation with countries of Central Asia must be an important focus for EU policy.
Efforts at resolving the long-standing Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as a hoped-for democratic transition in post-war Iraq could greatly affect the positive business environment in the Middle East. In the Eastern Mediterranean a promise of a resolution of the equally long stranding Greek-Turkish dispute over Cyprus and the Aegean continental shelf, would also open broad new economic horizons in the region.
EU relations with North Africa are marked by the importance of the Mediterranean as a major trading artery, as well as shared security concerns regarding among other things illegal immigration and terrorism.
The European Union agenda for the next few years will be dominated by the implementation of a truly Common, Foreign and Security Policy. As regards defense and trade issues, in general, the way in which the EU interacts with the United States as well as Russia will have a major impact on the future development of the European Rim.