The 25th session of the Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) took place yesterday evening in Brussels. Following the fruitful exchange between the ministers, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Adel Al-Jubeir and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini expressed “a firm determination to expand and strengthen bilateral political, economic, cultural and social cooperation and relations” between the two blocs at a joint press conference.
In a statement published by the EU-GCC co-chairs, both parties agreed that cooperation serves as ”a solid and effective foundation for sustainable regional and international stability and security,” and pledged to “further enhance their political dialogue and cooperation.”
On the conflict in Yemen, all parties welcomed the resumption of the UN-mediated Yemen peace talks in Kuwait on 16 July and reiterated their support to the UN Special Envoy for Yemen in facilitating a comprehensive and lasting settlement between Yemeni parties to restore peace and resume the transition in Yemen.
Federica Mogherini stressed the need “to work together to help the parties find common ground. There one area where convergence was complete between us and among the respective parties. We agreed there is only a political solution to the conflicts in Yemen and we’re trying to join forces to facilitate this process.” Mirroring these sentiments, Mr, Al-Jubeir added that “a political settlement in Yemen has to be based on three basic principles: the GCC initiative, the outcome of the Yemeni national dialogue and the UN Security Council resolution 2216.”
Al-Jubeir, speaking as the head of the rotating GCC presidency, said Saudi Arabia and its partners are working “to encourage the parties [in Yemen] to sign agreements and implement measures so that we can move Yemen from a state of war to a state of development, reconstruction and prosperity.”
During the meeting, ministers also reaffirmed their determination to counter terrorism and terrorism financing, and to defeat Da’esh and other terrorist organizations. They stressed the need to reach a solution to the Syrian crisis. They called for immediate country-wide humanitarian access allowing the delivery of aid to all besieged areas, emphasizing the importance of full and strict adherence to the cessation of hostilities arrangements.
EU and GCC Ministers also reviewed progress in the EU-GCC strategic relationship and “expressed their willingness to address together common political, social, economic, and security challenges, as well as macroeconomic stability and support for diversification strategies,” such as Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Plan, Vision 2030, noting that two-way trade between the blocs represented more than €155 billion in 2015, an increase of 55% since 2010.