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Background on EU GCC energy cooperation

The GCC countries comprise some of the world's largest producers of oil and gas. In the past few years countries in the GCC started a number of initiatives to diversify their economy and their energy mix. In particular GCC governments have put the emphasis on sustainable energy transition with the implementation of clean energy plans or the adoption of targets – mainly based on diversification strategies, energy efficiency and renewables.

The EU is seeking to establish a long term strategic relationship with the GCC countries. Current EU GCC relations are based on a Cooperation Agreement dating from 1988 which aims at broadening economic and technical cooperation, including in the fields of energy, industry, trade and services, agricultural, fisheries, investment, science, technology and environment. The Cooperation Agreement establishes an annual Joint Council/Ministerial Meeting between EU and the GCC foreign ministers, as well as a Joint Cooperation Committee between senior officials. A number of technical working groups exist inter alia in the fields of the energy, economic affairs, air and transport.

Notably, the joint GCC-EU Ministerial Council, at its 20th session held in Luxemburg on 14th June 2010, adopted the joint action program for the period 2010-2013. Within the framework of execution of the program, a number of joint actions were organized. Among these was also the "Establishment of European Union - GCC Network for clean energy".

Maintaining and strengthening the cooperation between the European Union and the GCC in the area of sustainable “clean” energy and energy efficiency is crucial: such cooperation could trigger mutual benefits - at the technological and political levels - and contribute to address both organisations interests. Furthermore, this cooperation should directly benefit implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change concluded in December 2015, in particular the economic diversification strategies in the Gulf region that form the basis for their GHG emissions reduction.