Euro-Arab Dialogue

The Euro-Arab Dialogue as a forum shared by the European Community and the League of Arab States arose out of a French initiative and was launched at the European Council in Copenhagen in December 1973, shortly after the « October War » and the oil embargo. As the Europeans saw it, it was to be a forum to discuss economic affairs, whereas the Arab side saw it rather as one to discuss political affairs.

There was a need for innovation as the Community and the League had at that time very little experience with structured dialogues with other institutions. Thus the main bodies of the Dialogue were created: the « Ministerial Troika », « General Committee » and working committees.

The Troika which has entered into normal Community practices with non-member states was initiated to assist the country in the Presidency of the Council for matters of Political Cooperation and to ensure continuity. For the Dialogue, the Troika consists of representatives from both sides from the current, previous and next presidencies.

The composition of the General Commmission, central body of the Dialogue, is left to the discretion of the two sides. It is thanks to this so-called « Dublin Compromise » that the PLO has also been able to take part in the Dialogue.

The activity of the Dialogue was suspended in 1979 upon request of the League of Arab States, following the Camp David Agreements, after only four sessions of the General Committee. With the Venice Declaration in June 1980, the Community decided it was time to work on the political aspects of the Dialogue and organized a preparatory meeting for the General Committee in Athens in December 1983. Egypt’s conspicuous absence due to its suspension from all activity of the League of Arab States was enough to prevent full resumption of activity.

Following Egypt’s return, there was a further attempt to relaunch the Dialogue in December 1989, once again following an initiative of France – who held the EC Presidency at the time – with a Euro-Arab Ministerial Conference being convened in Paris. The Conference was followed in June 1990 by a meeting of the General Commission of the Dialogue. The Gulf Crisis and the Arab splits and differences which followed have blocked the Dialogue in the meantime.