GCC, EU to renew joint action program
RIYADH: 23 March 2013
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Union are closely working to renew a joint action program, which will expand cooperation in 14 key strategic areas including economy, energy and nuclear safety.
The joint program, whose mandate ends this year, was the focus of discussions at the high-profile GCC-EU economic dialogue that concluded in Brussels last Thursday, according to a statement released by the GCC General Secretariat here yesterday.
An intention to renew the joint action program till 2016 is an important move on the part of the GCC and the EU,” said Ahmed Al-Kabi, a GCC spokesman.
He said the relationship between the two regional blocs is governed by a framework cooperation agreement signed way back in 1988 as well as by this thee-year joint action program (2010-13) that expires this year.
The joint program, once renewed, will ensure that the EU shares its experiences with the GCC in key areas. The program calls for closer cooperation in areas such as terrorism, money laundering, monetary affairs, investment relations, trade, power and water, transport, environment, industry, intellectual property rights and information technology. Other fields of cooperation identified by the joint program include education, tourism and culture.
Asked about the EU’s decision to end the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for 89 countries including the GCC from January 2014 that figured during the Brussels meeting, another GCC official said: “It is a cause for concern.”
“The GCC wants the EU to take into consideration more than one parameter to decide on ending or not ending the GSP for the Gulf states,” said the official on condition of anonymity.
The EU is only taking the GDP or per capita income as the base to lift the GSP or to review the GSP status for Gulf states, he added.
“The GCC member states currently benefit from preferential access to the EU market under the GSP, a system which provides preferential access to some countries in the form of reduced tariffs for goods entering the EU,” says a report on EU’s official website.