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In December 1987 the Supreme Council of the GCC States (8th session) agreed to initiate formal negotiations with the EU with a view to concluding an initial framework agreement on the cooperation between the two sides. The Supreme Council mandated the Ministerial Council to negotiate with the EU and sign the initial agreement. Later, the Framework Agreement between the GCC States and the EU was signed in 15 June 1988, approved by the Supreme Council at its 9th session (December 1988), and came into force in January 1990.
The Supreme Council also mandated the Ministerial Council to issue the necessary mandate to the negotiating team to conclude formal negotiations with the EU leading to a trade agreement between the two sides. The Ministerial Council (35th session, June 1990) adopted the resolution on initiating formal trade negotiations with the EU and mandating the negotiating team to initiate these negotiations according to certain relevant directives.
Having signed the Framework Agreement, relations between the GCC States and the EU took the following two tracks:
(a) Implementation of the Framework Agreement
The Framework Cooperation Agreement between the GCC States and the EU provided for setting up a joint council composed of the Foreign Ministers of both sides, which would hold annual periodical meetings. The Ministerial Council held twenty three meetings, the first of which was in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, on 17 March 1990, and the last was in Manama on 30 June 2013. The Joint Ministerial Council did not meet in 1995, instead, a ministerial meeting at the troika level was held wherein the two sides agreed to increase cooperation between them. In addition, the two sides hold an annual meeting in New York during the meetings of the UN General Assembly.
The Framework Agreement also provided for establishing a joint cooperation committee that would assist the Joint Ministerial Council in performing its functions. The Agreement entitled the Joint Ministerial Council to set up any subcommittees, at its discretion, to assist the Council in performing its functions. The Joint Ministerial Council, at its 2nd meeting in Luxembourg (May 1991), decided to form three working teams for cooperation in the fields of industry, environment and energy.
In activation of the Framework Agreement of Economic Cooperation an extensive meeting of experts and senior officials of both sides was held at the headquarters of the Secretariat General on 9th and 10th February 2010. At the said meeting the project of joint action program for the activation of cooperation for the period 2010-2013 was agreed upon.
The joint GCC-EU Ministerial Council, at its 20th session held in Luxemburg on 14th June 2010, adopted joint action program for the period 2010-2013. Within the framework of execution of the program, a number of joint events have been organized in the fields of finance, economy, monetary, trade, industry, investment, energy, nuclear safety, electricity, water, transport, environment, combating money laundering, combating funding terrorism, patent, protection of intellectual property, higher education and scientific research etc. Interviews, meetings and workshop are periodically organized. Among these events are the following:
• Joint environment seminar between the GCC and the European Union, held in the Sultanate of Oman on 15th and 16th January 2011, which resulted in the visit of the officials of GCC States environment bodies to the European Union on 25th and 26th May 2011.
• Workshop on commerce and investment, held in Brussels, in October 2012.
• Workshop on electricity and water, held in Brussels, in November 2012.
• A lecture titled "European Union establishments and process of decision-making following execution of Treaty of Lisbon”, held at the headquarters of the GCC Secretariat General, in November 2012, in coordination with the Institute of International Affairs in Rome.
• Workshop on cooperation in research and innovation, held in Brussels, in December 2012.
• Establishment of European Union and GCC network for clean energy.
• Striving to sign Memorandum of Understanding between Eurostat and GCC in the statistical field.
• A number of GCC Secretariat General officials joined the diplomatic secondment program at European external relationships body in April 2012, February 2013 and March 2014.

In the economic field, dialogue is held between the two parties periodically, last of which was 4th in the series, held in Brussels on 19th March 2013. This dialogue gathered together experts and specialists from both sides to discuss topics of common interest. In addition, periodical meetings were held between governors of monetary agencies and central banks in the GCC States and their counterparts in the European Union. The 3rd meeting was held in June 2012 in Abu Dhabi. Also, a workshop on combating money laundering and terror funding is also held periodically. The 7th workshop was held in November 2011, in Poland.
The joint cooperation committee among the GCC and European Union held its 25th meeting in April 2014 at the GCC Secretariat General. The meeting discussed developments in GCC and European Union, as well as the work progress in areas of cooperation within the framework of joint cooperation agreement between the GCC and European Union and other areas of cooperation, including existing activities such as trade relations and trade facilitation. In addition, coordination is being made to hold the following:
• 5th economic dialogue in May 2014 at the headquarters of the GCC Secretariat General.
• A joint seminar between the GCC and the European Union in the field of food security, health of animals, and importation of food and live animals, during the month of June 2014, at the headquarters of the Secretariat General.
• Civil Aviation dialogue, during the month of June 2014, in Brussels.

(b) Trade Negotiations
Trade and economic interests of both sides require joint action to enhance their mutual relations. The GCC States possess huge oil reserves, which is crucial for the EU and the entire world. In addition, the GCC States are developing countries that are in need for technology, experiences, and various products of the EU; a situation that requires both sides to increase trade between them and eliminate all trade barriers.
Therefore, Article (11) of the EU-GCC Cooperation Agreement (June 1988) provides that the objective is to encourage, develop and diversify trade between the two contracting parties to the highest possible level, and that the two sides will initiate negotiations leading to an agreement on expanding trade according to the provisions of the Joint Declaration attached to this Agreement, and that, pending the conclusion of such trade agreement, the two contracting parties would implement the MFN principle. The Joint Declaration clarifies that the objective of the trade agreement is to expand trade through taking appropriate measures for improving access of the products of either party to the other party’s markets and liberalizing bilateral trade.
Having signed the cooperation agreement, trade negotiations took a track that was independent from the other areas of cooperation. The political decision by the Joint Council indicated that the objective of those negotiations was to conclude an FTA agreement. Negotiations were initiated in 1991, but were not conducted in a smooth manner due to certain difficulties existed then. Following the establishment of the GCC Customs Union and unification of tariff for the GCC States, the negotiations were intensified and many rounds of talks conducted in which many topics were finalized and some points remained which needed more discussion.
However in 2008, due to the absence of any progress in the negotiations, and the European side maintaining its previous positions, the GCC suspended negotiations, but approved the European demand to continue consultations between the two parties, until a common ground for resuming negotiations is achieved.