EU-Gulf relations: Looking Beyond the Neighbourhood
Senior Academic Assistant, College of Europe; Visiting Research Fellow, King’s College London
The European Union, like its member countries before it, strongly believes in the centrality of its neighbouring region in the making of its foreign policy and its “existing commitment to its relationship with the countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East and its long standing engagement with the challenges confronting them”. Of central significance to European engagement in the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) region, the ENP has, since its creation in 2004, spearheaded EU policies towards its immediate southern neighbourhood as a means to “promote a ring of well-governed countries”.
Keen to maintain a stable and secure neighbourhood vital to Europe’s own stability , the European Commission has also stressed the need to go a step further to “look beyond the Union’s immediate neighbourhood” to the many neighbours of its own neighbourhood, to identify the various regional challenges and opportunities therein, and the potential for further regional cooperation. An international conference organised by the College of Europe in November 2012 sought to shed light on the relatively unexplored concept of ‘neighbours of the EU neighbours’. This analysis, which draws upon my own presentation given at the conference, focuses on the countries of the Arabian Peninsula as one of the three central regions of the EU’s greater neighbourhood looked at during the two-day conference.
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