The Gulf Research Center
The Istituto Affari Internazionali
Joint Seminar on
EU-Gulf Relations: enhancing economic, political and Security Cooperation
Rome, 26 November 2005
“Nigra” Room - Italian Foreign Office
The seminar would have the following objectives:
- Bring together a group of qualified participants from Europe and the Gulf (and a few from the United States) with the aim of discussing topics of mutual significance and exchanging opinions and ideas with participants from other regions;
- Discuss, first of all, EU foreign and security policies towards the Middle East as well as European Union-Gulf developmental, political and security relations;
- Discuss the impact of U.S. and NATO policies on EU-Gulf relations.
Despite their long-term commercial and economic agreements, EU relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council-GCC countries are relatively undeveloped and not proportional to the two areas’ importance in the world. True, some European nations, such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France have significant bilateral relations with GCC countries. But Europe as a whole and the European Union in particular, while fully involved in the Mediterranean region through its multidimensional Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, has only minimal relations with the Gulf. On the other hand, the European Security Strategy endorsed by the EU Council at the end of 2003 points to the need of the EU to be present and able to intervene to prevent and manage crises even in areas beyond the Mediterranean.
While EU and European policies towards the Gulf remains economically and politically undeveloped, the new U.S. engagement in the Middle East and NATO’s Istanbul Declaration of June 2004 are raising questions about their engagement there that they can no longer avoid.
On the one hand, the EU has to respond to its own challenges in the Gulf. On the other hand, it has to respond to challenges stemming from the new American and transatlantic initiatives towards the region. While traditional EU policies towards the Gulf remains weak and uneven, the EU is also very hesitant to upgrade its security involvement in the area in the framework of the expansion of NATO policies towards the south. Today, the EU looks divided between those who would like to enlarge EU Mediterranean engagement towards the Gulf and those who would prefer to reinforce the Mediterranean policy and keep aloof of such a distant and complex area as the Gulf. Such a hesitant posture with regard to security policies may have a negative impact on the overdue upgrading of economic and trade relations.
Italy is actively participating in this process, as both a NATO and an EU member state. Thus, the Italian International Affairs Institute (IAI) is interested in promoting an international seminar to bring together a group of distinguished European, GCC and US opinion leaders, officials and analysts to provide an opportunity to debate issues of common interest as well as to contribute to public policy decision-making in their respective countries.
The meeting would take place in Rome, Italy, in Fall 2005, at a date to be established later. The seminar will be co-sponsored by the IAI and institutions from the GCC countries to be identified as soon as possible. It would last no more than a day and a half. Sessions would be introduced by written papers.
The items to be discussed would be as follows:
1. EU-Gulf political and economic relations; assessment and policy recommendations
2. Regional security cooperation in the Gulf; how it should be organised; how Europe and the EU can contribute and cooperate
3. Political reform and stability in the Gulf region
4. EU-Gulf relations in a Transatlantic perspective
The results of the seminar will be disseminated through an ad hoc publication, as well as through the websites of the organisers.