About the project
Europe and the Gulf have a number of common interests, ranging from trade, energy and climate change, to education, culture and communications. The European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) remain committed to promoting these mutual interests and to reinforcing their cooperation. This two-year project explores how to promote EU-GCC relations by carrying out policy-oriented research, dissemination/outreach and training activities in a comprehensive and synergetic framework. The overall goal is to enhance understanding and cooperation between the EU and the GCC, focusing on the key strategic areas identified in the Joint Action Programme of 2010.
The main objectives of this project are:
• promoting public awareness of the EU among socio-political stakeholders and citizens in the GCC countries and their engagement with the EU;
• establishing closer links among EU and GCC research and academic institutions;
• advancing policy-oriented research and debate over the current state of EU-GCC relations by identifying the major challenges facing them and proposing effective mechanisms to deepen EU-GCC cooperation. A key goal is to identify new areas of cooperation beyond those of the Joint Action Programme, notably by enhancing political dialogue and undertaking initiatives aimed at creating new links between the respective civil societies.
1. The outreach activities envisage a lecture programme to be delivered by high-level scholars and think tank analysts from the European partner institutes in the GCC states. These lectures are aimed at enhancing knowledge and understanding of the EU, its institutions and policies. These activities are based upon the assumption that GCC policy-makers and civil society representatives are key agents for the spread of information about EU integration processes, its institutional framework and its external action. Such information can also contribute to spurring reflection among GCC decision-makers on how to enhance the level of integration inside the GCC by strengthening its own institutions and pursuing reform programmes.
In this light, lectures will cover four issue areas:
• EU institutions and decision-making processes after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, with particular emphasis on the example set by the EU experience in regional economic and political integration;
• EU external action policies, with a particular focus on trade, aid and, more broadly, contractual relations with neighbouring and other regions;
• CFSP/CSDP in the Mediterranean and the Middle East;
• the state of EU-GCC relations, including cooperation between EU and GCC institutions, e.g., parliaments and civil societies.
The project foresees twelve lectures, with each of the four above-mentioned topics being addressed in three GCC countries, thus ensuring coverage of all GCC member states. The lectures will target diplomats and officials, academics, researchers and students, civil society actors, business representatives and the media in the GCC states, with a view to spreading information about the EU and its global role. The lecture programme combines academic background analysis of EU institutions and policies, as well as empirical and policy-relevant examples of the EU in action.
2. The training activities include an exchange research programme involving both European and GCC post-doctoral students and junior researchers. Four fellows, two from the European partners and two from the GCC, will be selected by the Steering Committee of the project and will be offered a three-month fellowship. More specifically, each of the two European fellows will spend three months at a Gulf research centre, while each of the two fellows from the Gulf at an EU centre. The fellows will conduct research focusing on policy areas relevant to their home country and related to the Joint Action Programme for EU-GCC cooperation. The research conducted by the fellows will feed into the final conference of the project and their research contributions will be collected in a publication as project deliverables.
This activity is aimed at:
• helping the fellows familiarize with – or deepen their knowledge of – the EU and GCC norms, structures and modus operandi;
• allowing them to carry out research and write about a specific aspect of EU-GCC relations;
• exposing them to a European or to a Gulf-based research environment, in particular its working methods;
• enhancing cooperation among academic and research institutions in the EU and the GCC.
3. The research activities aim to explore EU-GCC relations in policy domains of common interest such as trade, investment, transport, energy and environment, and research and education. Strengthening cooperation in these fields will create synergies and yield mutual benefits. Second, the research team will identify new areas of potential cooperation, particularly in the area of political dialogue and civil society. Third, the project will dwell on the triangulation of cooperation with the Mediterranean after the recent developments in North Africa and the Middle East.
More specifically, the project will explore the extent and potential for EU-GCC cooperation in the following policy sectors, including discussing existing divergences and ways forward:
• finance and investments;
• economic and trade cooperation;
• energy, environment and climate change;
• transport and maritime security;
• media and communications;
• higher education and scientific research, with a particular emphasis on youth employability and the role of civil society to promote civic participation and social development.
These topics will be explored in three one-day closed-door workshops, each of which covering two policy areas among those identified above. One section of each workshop will consist of a roundtable discussion with the participation of specific target groups, such as journalists, education operators, businessmen, etc. Each roundtable will allow for an interactive dialogue tailored to the needs and interests of the target group and the specific relevance of the issues under discussion for the country where it takes place.
Each work package (WP) covering the research dimension of the project will produce a research paper based on the results both of the workshops and of the related background research. Each report will assess the opportunities for EU-GCC cooperation in the policy sector under examination. In order to elaborate policy proposals for enhancing understanding and cooperation in EU-GCC relations a number of interviews with individual stakeholders in the GCC and the EU – from official institutions, the media, academia and civil society – will be conducted by the research team on the fringe of the workshops and other meetings. The results of the research and the policy proposals will be compiled in a final report and presented in a final public conference.