The General Secretariat of the GCC in Riyadh recently hosted a joint meeting with members of the EU Political and Security Committee (PSC). This high-ranking committee includes ambassadors of the EU member states in Brussels and representatives of the European External Action Service.
It is concerned with the formulation of EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP), and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). The importance of such meetings can be described in the following points:
Firstly, the GCC is a stabilizing factor in the region as indicated by Ambassador Walter Stevens, chairman of the EU (PSC) who stated: “Partnership with the GCC is crucial to the EU. Visits to Kuwait and Riyadh come within the framework of improvement of relations with the GCC, a key stabilizing factor in the region”.
Terrorism is a common threat to the GCC and the EU that needs greater cooperation to multiply efforts with a view to defeating all terrorist organizations and to combatting extremist ideologyDr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin
Hence, the GCC is not merely an oil market; rather, it significantly contributes to the proliferation of peace, security and stability. This was also emphasized by the secretary general of the GCC, who said: “the GCC does not only export oil, it also exports peace and security to the world”.
He added that the Middle East has not advanced a single step since the outbreak of the so-called Arab Spring, and described terrorism and illegal immigration as issues which are closely tied to the region’s stability, and real challenges facing the EU.
Secondly, the GCC is a key partner of the EU. Despite the lengthy period of negotiations around Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and the GCC, the volume of trade between the two blocs hit 155 billion euros in 2015. The EU is the number one business partner to the GCC, while the GCC is ranked 5th in the EU’s business relations with other blocs and countries. Thus, the GCC’s regional stability is a common interest. The two sides are expected to discuss many economic initiatives in the upcoming EU-GCC business forum in Riyadh.
The revolts and terrorism
Thirdly, terrorism is the focal issue concerning all countries of the world. There are close links between the uprisings that swept across the region and the increase in the terrorist groups. This is due to the lack of political stability, slackness of the security and military institutions, and the failure to protect borders in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, which is a major threat to international peace and security.
Terrorism is a common threat to the GCC and the EU that needs greater cooperation to multiply efforts with a view to defeating all terrorist organizations and to combatting extremist ideology.
Finally, common interests and shared views on many issues between the GCC and the EU could serve as a solid ground on which to build strong strategic relations that will result in a balanced and equitable relationship.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on June 22, 2017
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin is a Middle East affairs specialist and security analyst based in Riyadh. He can be contacted at Ibrahim.email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alothaimin.