By Mohammed Rasooldeen
The GCC made a call for closer cooperation with the EU in its economic transformation plan at a meeting held at the GCC Secretariat in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg, assistant secretary-general for political negotiations and affairs of the GCC, made the call at the opening of a EU-GCC forum on the achievements and lessons learnt from EU integration held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.
The evening event was attended by EU and GCC ambassadors and other diplomats from various missions in the capital.
Aluwaisheg pointed out that the GCC countries have ambitious plans to diversify their economies to overcome the challenges. “We sincerely trust that the EU countries will cooperate with the GCC nations to help them utilize new revenues for government and turn them to a normal economy, which would lead them to better prosperity,” he added.
The EU-GCC cooperation, he hoped, would help maintain security and prosperity in the region.
Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation headquartered in Riyadh, said: “We have invited EU ambassadors, together with the GCC (secretary-general), to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the treaty of Rome, which was signed by the six founding member states of the European Economic Community (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), on March 25, 1957.”
He added: “The GCC member states are important strategic partners to the EU, the EU cares about these countries and their people and provides its political support to them. We want to further expand and consolidate our cooperation to bring our people, our civil society, our authorities and our governments closer together. This is what our aim is “promote mutual understanding and narrow the gaps.”
The EU and its member states are the world’s leading aid donors, providing more than half of total official development assistance in 2015.
“The European Union also stands ready to help those affected by natural and man-made disasters. Humanitarian crises continue to take a heavy toll internationally, and in 2016 the EU allocated relief assistance of over €1.5 billion for food, shelter, protection and health care to 120 million people in over 80 countries,” the EU head said.
In his speech, Italian Ambassador Luca Ferrari said: “The GCC, like the EU, is becoming a supranational institution, strongly contributing to the progress of its member states. And we have today a great opportunity to reflect and share our common experience.”