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For the next three days, students from 20 universities in Europe and New York will tackle the issues of the European Union and its dealings with border nations at a conference simulating the EU at Fredonia State College.

"The EU as an international actor will only get more important," U.N. delegate Chris Matthews told the 200 students at the simulation, which opened Thursday.

The students, many of whom had spent the day touring Niagara Falls after flying in from countries such as Germany, England and Poland, were about to put to the test their lengthy studies and research into EU member states and how EU delegates would decide issues. Each student is taking the role of an EU representative in meetings that end Sunday.

The subject on the table over the weekend is how the EU member states will maintain and improve security and good relations with their border states. Many of these bordering nations, which exist in what is increasingly being known as an expanding "European Neighborhood," are eager to become EU members.

Professor Neill Nugent, of Manchester Metropolitan University in England, noted that the EU has grown from 15 member states to 25 and and in a short period could expand to as many as 30 member states. "One of the key questions the EU is dealing with, and these students are dealing with, is 'What is Europe? Where is Europe?' " he said.

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