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An international political economy view of EU-GCC partnership


Paper presented at the “International Conference on Challenges of Economic
Development for the GCC Countries”, Kuwait City, 29-31 January 2005, organized by
the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) and sponsored by The World Bank.

Gonzalo Escribano-Francés, Professor of Applied Economics
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia-UNED
C/Senda del Rey, nº 11, 28028, Madrid, Spain
E-mail: [email protected]; Tel: (34) 91 398 63 29; Fax: (34) 91 398 78 21
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After several years of being blocked, the signing of the EU-GCC FTA seems imminent
at the time of writing this paper. At the same time, the US is launching an ambitious
proposal for a US-Middle East Free Trade Area in 2013, with Bahrain being the last
country to adhere to a list that already includes Morocco and Jordan. The UAE and
Oman are the next countries to start free trade negotiations with the US. In this context,
the objectives of the present paper are to shed some light on the EU-GCC relationship
and its differentiated nature from the US approach. The paper starts by setting a
previous conceptual framework and comparing the EU-GCC Cooperation Agreement
with other EU regional initiatives. It also explores the evolution of EU-GCC relations
and its distinct nature when compared with other regional initiatives, mainly its strong
political dimension. The paper points to the need for economic cooperation, including
the long-awaited FTA, and cultural dialogue to transit from its current fragmented and
low profile level to an inclusive and institutionalised EU-GCC Association Agreement.
Two qualifications are added: that EU-GCC relations should adopt a more sophisticated
partnership model than Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, and that it should take into
account the G8 strategy on the Middle East.

 source: UNED