EU in the GCC

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Michele Cervone

On May 9 1950, Robert Schuman, Foreign Minister of France, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, one which would make war between Europe’s nations impossible. Since then, together, we have built a continent promoting peace, sharing prosperity and human development. Choosing cooperation over confrontation, Europeans built in these sixty nine-years, the most successful peace project in history. Since then, the European Union (EU)  has adapted and taken on new challenges.

* In the past months, an important milestone was reached in cooperation between the European Union and our Arab neighbours, with the first-ever EU-Arab League Summit in Sharm El Sheikh, in February, in which HM the Amir of Kuwait played a key role. Consensus was reached on important regional issues such as the Middle-Eat Peace Process but also on building further linkages between our peoples.

* The EU considers the State of Kuwait as an increasingly important partner and our ambition is to have a comprehensive and multidimensional cooperation covering political dialogue, economy and trade, sectoral and regional cooperation.

* But relations do not revolve only around “dialogue” – we intend to widen the scope of our cooperation and build on concrete programmes and a common agenda. Kuwait was the first GCC state to sign a “Cooperation Arrangement” with the EU, in July 2016 and the first to launch practical cooperation with a first Senior Officials Meeting held in Brussels last November. Concrete projects are already being planned within the three agreed priority areas of Counter-terrorism and Security, Development Cooperation and Renewable Energy.

* It is not exclusively government to government engagement – this is matched by people to people exchanges – business to business dialogue, education and parliamentary exchanges as well as cultural diplomacy. The visit of a delegation from the European Parliament last December that was hosted by the National Assembly should be followed by a return visit to Brussels by Kuwaiti parliamentarians later this year. In terms of cultural diplomacy and people-to-people relations, the EU sponsorship last year of the 2nd annual LAPA Festival of Art and Dance and workshops and seminars marking International Women’s Day 2019 co-organised with the Kuwait Society for Human Rights and the Kuwait Women’s Cultural and Social Society are proof positive of the strength of these relations.

* While we are expanding bilateral engagement, EU cooperation with Kuwait remains anchored around the GCC with a close partnership especially on the economic agenda and how we can mutually address our employment, trade and fiscal challenges. Kuwait’s role last year as GCC Presidency and the efforts of HM the Amir to try to resolve the Gulf Rift were strongly supported by the EU. This year Kuwait and the EU co-chaired the 3rd EU-GCC Business Forum with the strong support of KDIPA, the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and the Supreme Council for Planning and Development.

* The EU is increasing its footprint in the Gulf with the opening in the near future a fully-fledged EU Delegation to Kuwait which will enable us to deepen further our engagement both with Kuwait and other GCC countries.

On the advent of the Holy Month, we would like to wish everyone a fulfilling, peaceful and happy Ramadan.

By Ambassador Michele Cervone

Head of EU delegation to Kuwait

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