In the course of its integration process, the European Union received more and more competences in questions of foreign and security policy as well as environmental policy. Due to the enlargement of ten member states on May 1st, 2004, the global independent role of the Union was strengthened. Simultaneously, the expectation of the EU's foreign policy profile is increasing. Using various processes of strategy building, the EU is seeking to fulfil these challenges. Crisis prevention, implementing a sustainable development programme, and creating regional stability are central elements of the EU foreign policy action framework. In the following section, the various activities of the EU are presented and pivotal documents and processes are referenced.
In its Communication from the Commission on Conflict Prevention (April 2001), the European Commission, examines the essential instruments of conflict prevention as well as civil crisis management and gives recommendations for subsequent political steps in this area. In addition to drug trade or small weapons, resource management and natural resource access as well as increasing environmental degradation are also mentioned as cross-cutting areas that have to be taken into consideration within a comprehensive conflict prevention approach. User rights of transboundary river basins and the illegal trade of diamonds are considered particularly sensitive problem areas. Increasing environmental degradation is to be combated by means of strengthened cooperation in bilateral and regional partnership programmes as well as in the context of international environment conventions.