With Greece now in the fold, and Spain, Portugal, and eventually Turkey to follow, the European Community will arch along the northern shores of the Mediterranean enlarging its frontiers with Africa, the Balkans, and the Arab world.
Entering the Community will change the new member nations substantially, forcing them to modernize and "think European." The EC may also be transformed from a "rich man's club" into a more diverse, self-sufficient union with these features:
* A greater interest in NEar Eastern and North African developments.
* A degree of polarization within the EC into competitive, and possibly contentious, interest groups, with the industrialized North against the agricultural South.
* Perhaps a newly revitalized goal of a "United Europe" because the enthusiasm of the newer members. If the Greeks are any indication, the more staid EC nations can look forward to a vital spark of Hellenistic idealism in the years ahead.
"We do not look on the EC as a final aim," Greek Prime Minister George Rallis said in Athens on the eve of Greece's elevation to full membership in the Community. "But it is an important preparatory stage for the achievement in European unity. Our country believes in European unity and in the tremendous political role which a united Europe could play in the world today."
Greek Foreign Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis told the Monitor that Greek policy toward the EC will include "whatever we can do to influence the direction of a united Europe."
A longtime EC observer stationed in Paris contends more recent Community members, such as Ireland, tend to be more European-minded than longtime members.
Spain and Portugal are scheduled to join the EC in 1983, although Madrid may delay its entry until 1984. Their joining currently faces a hit of opposition by French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who last June urged the Community not to admit new states until existing members have been fully integrated.
Some analysts believe Giscard and others fear that a "two-speed" Europe could be in the making if less-developed southern European nations begin to collaborate. Fruits and vegetables from warmer regions could hurt northern European farmers. At this point, such goods are under strict EC price controls. But Greece, Spain, and Portugal could form a voting bloc to ease the controls.
Georgios Kontogiorgis, Greek minister in charge of EC transition, notes that Greece, Spain, and Portugal do share common problems related to the EC and have been in touch about them.
Like Greece, Spain in Portugal have had to rid themselves of right-wing dictatorships in the past seven years. Turkey currently is ruled by a junta and will have to return to democracy beofe it can join the EC. To all of these nations, the EC represents a stabilising element.
"Each nation must of course be taken individually," Mr. kontogiorgis said in an interview this week."But it is fair to say our negotiations established patterns for Spain and Portugal. At this point I don't see any problem that should prevent a second enlargement of the Community."
Two specific sources of concern, however, are the production of olive oil and tomato paste. When Portugal joins, the EC will be producing a surplus of tomato paste. With Spain, olive oil will be in excess. The European Farmers' Organization warns that Spain could quickly double its agricultural land and edge out French producers in Moroccan, Tunisian, Algerian, and Israeli markets. Spain denies this will happen. Negotiators will try to work out these differences in the next three years.