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The EU & the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Nada Almutawa
27/05/2009 12:00 AM

The EU established bilateral relations with the GCC countries through a Cooperation Agreement signed in 1988. It forsees the establishment of an annual Joint Council/Ministerial Meeting between the EU and the GCC foreign ministers as well as between senior officials at a Joint Cooperation Committee.

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) is a regional organisation consisting of six Gulf countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. The GCC was created in May 1981. Its main objectives are to enhance coordination, integration and inter-connection among its Member States in different spheres. All the GCC member states are members of the Arab League and Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are the prominent members of OPEC.

Free Trade Agreement Negotiations

The 1988 Cooperation Agreement contained a commitment from both sides to enter into negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement. The negotiations were initiated in 1990 but soon reached a standstill. In 1999, the negotiations regained momentum after the GCC’s declaration to create a customs union (entry into force: January 2003). Negotiations resumed in March 2002. They have taken place at an accelerated rate during 2007.

Industrialised and High-Income Countries Instrument

The financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries and territories (ICI) entered into force on 1 January 2007. It is the framework for financial cooperation activities between the EU and the Gulf region (as well as other high-income countries)..