Sharaka Research Paper nr.6
by Ahmed Ali M. al Mukhaini
This policy paper seeks to understand the factors that have inhibited significant progress in relations between the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with particular focus on higher education and scientific research (HESR). Based on informal discussions held with opinion leaders and government officials in Oman as well as insights from meetings and discussions held in Brussels in 2011 with representatives of the EU Commission, European Parliament and NGOs, the paper outlines and discusses the factors responsible for the lack of progress in the cooperation. These factors can be classified into four categories: structural/ institutional challenges; political challenges; philosophical challenges; and logistical challenges. Based on the assumption that progress in economic development and scientific research is highly dependent on progress in higher education, as higher education builds up human capital, the paper argues that cooperation in higher education should be the locomotive leading the way for a greater engagement between the EU and the GCC. Furthermore, as the EU’s own experience suggests, cooperation in higher education is highly conducive to integration, stability and economic growth, all of which are valid concerns for the EU and GCC alike, and constitutes an area in which the two blocs can develop a greater sense of complementarity.