The European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council signed an Economic Cooperation Agreement in 1988 which laid the framework for the elaboration of a bilateral free trade agreement between the two regional blocs. Formal negotiations began in 1990 and are still not concluded.
While the EU has powerful economic interests in liberalising investment rules in the Gulf States, so that EU corporations may participate directly in the region’s oil, banking, telecoms, port services and other industries, political issues have been publically blamed for blocking agreement. These include demands from the EU with regards to fulfilling standards of democracy and human rights, as well as clauses on cooperation against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Human rights groups, such as the International Federation for Human Rights, have urged the EU to insist on respect for freedom of press, women’s rights and labour rights of migrant workers in the Gulf countries in return for any trade concessions granted through the FTA.
At the end of 2008, the GCC formally announced it was suspending the trade talks due to the EU’s insistence on political demands.
last update: May 2012
Human rights issues will be high on the agenda in negotiations between the European Union and the GCC on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a senior official declared in Bahrain last night.
The Federation of the GCC Chambers is inviting the European Union and the GCC to speed up signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two blocs.
Bahrain human rights activists will raise issues related to "unconstitutional" constituency boundaries at a key meeting with the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. They are joining another group of activists from GCC states, who will meet officials from the European Union Commission and European Parliament in Brussels. The GCC group will highlight their reservations on their governments’ approach to various human rights issues ahead of the signing of a Gulf-EU Free trade agreement.
It seems that more time is needed before the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and 27-member European Union sign a long-awaited free trade agreement. Qatar’s deputy premier and minister of energy and industry Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah recently raised the alarm bells, speaking of "endless" EU conditions.
The Gulf Cooperation Council and 25-member European Union failed on Sunday to overcome obstacles to a free trade agreement that has eluded them for nearly 20 years, the Qatari finance minister said.
The delay in signing the EU-GCC FTA has resulted in a chain reaction as the European Union will now apply new standards in negotiating trade agreements, according to Sweden’s minister of "free" trade
UK businesses are increasingly likely to lose out to the US on valuable Gulf export opportunities because it is taking so long for the EU to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the region’s key states, says Trowers & Hamlins, the international law firm.
Foreign Minister Michael Frendo has urged the successful conclusion of negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The wording of the agreement remains undecided along with issues concerning service industries and investment rules.
Gulf Arab states and the European Union are likely to finalise a free trade deal by June, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council said on Monday.