southern Mediterranean countries, provided no new ruling comes into force. Current developments leave room for doubts that this will be the case. Although the Maastricht Treaty includes a new chapter on a common EC development policy, major changes in the EC's trade relations with the southern Mediterranean countries cannot be expected as long as development aid is understood by the member states as being similar to export promotion, and as long as it is counteracted by other measures, in particular the EC's restrictive agricultural policy. 83
At their June 1992 Lisbon meeting, the Twelve heads of state agreed, inter alia, that the Maghreb and Mashriq would be priority areas of future common foreign policy for the Community. This was mainly due to the pressure of the southern EC members who intended to balance the overall eastward orientation of the EC, which will increase when Austria, Sweden, Finland, and perhaps Norway join the Community by the mid-1990s.
Although the Gulf region was not mentioned in this connection, it is very likely that this part of the Middle East will increasingly move into the focus of the EC's attention in the following years. Oil remains the Achilles heel of the Community, and the significance of oil from the Gulf region for the EC will increase steadily throughout the decade. Other oil exporters will, because of growing domestic needs or the depletion of resources, be less willing and able to meet the EC's demand which is expected to remain stable throughout the decade. 84 Although this fact is well known, the member states could not agree on the long envisaged establishment of a free-trade zone with the GCC. After the expulsion of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, the negotiations, in a striking parallel to the events after the 1988 ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq War, slowly lost momentum. In the spring of 1992, high Community officials had already warned that, if no agreement could be reached in 1992, a unique opportunity could perhaps be lost forever, as long as, one is tempted to add, no major crisis erupts in the Middle East.