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Issue Date: 19-Jul-2006
Journal: Proceedings of the Conference THE CULTURAL TURN IN GEOGRAPHY, 18-20th of September 2003 - Gorizia Campus
Part VII: Cultural Geography and Geopolitics
Abstract: When this paper will be published the new EU enlargement will have been accomplished. From May 1st 2004, ten Central and Eastern European and two Mediterranean countries will officially enter the Union. These countries are the three Baltic Republics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Slovakian Republic, Slovenia and the two Mediterranean islands of Malta and Cyprus. These countries will be entitled to take part to the next Intergovernmental Conference that may adopt the new Union Treaty (an actual Constitution based on the European Convention); they will also participate to the European elections for the renewal of the European Parliament, which will be held right after the enlargement, in June 2004. The text of the closing statement of the Copenhagen European Council says that "this result proves European people's common determination to merge into a single Union that has become the driving force for the achievement of peace, democracy, stability and prosperity in our Continent". This powerful and crucial statement crosses out past tensions, latent conflicts, difficult dialogue between two areas of the same continent: the Western area, a market context dominated by the Atlantic influence, and the Eastern area, intent on experimenting with a form of society that was based on the concepts of real communism. At the geopolitical level, the transition from a form of co-operation that is focused on mainly mercantilist principles to a configuration that is driven mainly by the progressive accentuation of a tangible political integration represents an extraordinary opportunity for the new European Union to play a much more incisive role on the global scenario during the years to come. At the same time, in explicitly pragmatic terms, one cannot underestimate the fact that such a broad area has a primary influence on internal market transformations, on European labour market division, on the new opportunities that will arise from a growing international competitiveness. In order to understand the extent and the perspectives of the process triggered by the new enlargement, and to reflect over the challenge that the new Parliament and Commission will have to face, a brief account of geopolitical and geoeconomic evolution of the Union is appropriate. The original integration process was conceived in order to favour economic aspects mainly, although the contrasts between East and West during the 50s were so tense that the entire Eastern front was openly exposed to the danger of Soviet penetration, which threatened especially the UK and USA. An emphasis on internal European relationship in terms of regional economies in such a context may have seemed absurd without considering the actual awareness of an 'impossible' overcoming of that fence, the Berlin Wall, which would restrain any 'political' enlargement of continental Europe. After all, the post-war race for welfare urged to concentrate all efforts on the economic 'reconstruction' of Europe, focusing all Community partners' attention on some significant interventions both by ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community), and EURATOM; the former aimed at revaluating troubled industrial areas that were involved in conversion processes of steel activities, and the latter dealt with cooperation in the field of nuclear research for peaceful aims. Inevitably, with the Treaty of Rome, the first six European partners tackled the problem of supporting underdeveloped regional economies: the main goal was bringing Italian Mezzogiorno and Southwestern French territories closer to more dynamic and active regions such as Lorraine, Île de France, Dutch Randstad and north-western Italian industrial triangle (Compagna, 1973).[...]
ISBN: 88-8303-180-6
Rights: © Copyright 2003 Edizioni Università di Trieste - EUT
Appears in Collections:The cultural turn in geography

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