Completion of the enlargement process
With the completion of the process of accession of its new members, the European Union will focus its attention on developing closer relations with its new neighbouring countries. The elaboration of proposals for strengthening cooperation in all sectors with countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, is an issue which is already occupying the EU.
Meanwhile, furthering the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, as well as Turkey’s path to Europe, are top priorities for the Greek presidency. Another goal is to strengthen relations with the Western Balkans, by building on the positive results to date from the Stabilisation and Association process.
The EU-Western Balkans summit (Zagreb II), scheduled for next June in Thessaloniki, is expected to make a positive contribution in this direction.
In addition, Russia’s position as a strategic partner of the EU will be highlighted at the EU-Russia summit in May 2003, which is expected to serve as a starting point for the renewal of relations between the two sides.
Given that the process of revising the EU’s Common Strategy on Russia will be completed during the next six months, the Greek Presidency will promote the creation of a Common European Economic Area. It will also be working for a Common European Social Area, the promotion of the EU-Russia energy dialogue, the advancement of negotiations on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, as well as cooperation in crisis management and linkage with the European Security and Defence Policy.
Our new neighbours
The Greek Presidency intends to fully utilise and upgrade the conventional framework of relations with the Union’s partners in the Southern Mediterranean and the neighbouring countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, including the Caucasus. In cooperation with the European Commission, it will explore possibilities for developing relations in sectors that are taking on greater significance in view of enlargement (trade and economic relations, area of freedom, security and justice).
The action plan adopted at the most recent Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Ministers in Valencia constitutes the appropriate framework for promoting the Barcelona process and the more active participation of Mediterranean partners.
The Greek Presidency will endeavour to implement the commitments undertaken in Valencia and will promote dialogue with the Mediterranean countries as well as cooperation in the areas of trade, development, justice, migration, security and the environment, while the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for intercultural dialogue will strengthen cooperation in cultural, youth and information issues.
The importance of the southern Caucasus for the integrated development of EU energy policy, as well as the proximity of regions of great interest, have prompted the EU to assume a more active role in the region. The implementation of the relevant decision, with the full utilisation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (through a Special Representative), will be the one of the main goals of the Greek Presidency.
The Northern Dimension
The considerable differences in the potential for development observed in the Northern regions bordering the EU, the increasing interdependency between the enlarged EU and Russia, the strategic importance and economic potential of the Northern regions, as well as the environmental conditions, constitute real challenges for the EU.
An important contribution to efforts to meet these challenges is provided by the Northern Dimension, which involves political initiatives by the EU in connection with the geographical region extending from Iceland to Northwest Russia and from Norway to the Southern Baltic coast. The concept of the Northern Dimension focuses geographically on the countries washed by the Baltic Sea and the regions of Northwest Russia and Kaliningrad.
The political initiatives taken in the framework of the Northern Dimension contribute to strengthening the positive interdependence between the EU, Russia and other Baltic states. Moreover, in view of the process of EU enlargement, they bolster security, stability and sustainable development in Northern Europe.
It is considered particularly important in the first phase to develop relations with Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, countries which are characterised by significant political and economic differences. Against this background, it will be important to fully exploit and/or upgrade existing agreements and coordinate the Community aid (TACIS, PHARE, CARDs, Interreg) which is being extended to these countries.