EU AMBASSADOR HIGHLIGHTS ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES FOR GULF STATES

EU AMBASSADOR HIGHLIGHTS ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES FOR GULF STATES

The European Union marked Europe Day on 9 May, 71 years from the day that the Schumann Declaration was agreed between Germany and France, laying the foundation for the creation of today’s EU.  The EU’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, HE Patrick Simonnet, used the opportunity not only to remind the Gulf states of how Europe has recovered from the carnage of the first half of the 20th century but also to draw parallels between the EU’s New Green Deal and the various Vision statements set out by all the GCC’s member states.

Referencing Saudi’s Vision 2030 strategic plan for the future, the EU ambassador told Arab News: “It’s very ambitious. It’s an inspiration for the rest of the region. We think it’s an excellent basis for us in terms of economic cooperation. There are many sectors of common interest where we think we can work together.”  His suggestion that the EU’s growing demand for hydrogen as a future fuel indeed chimes closely with Saudi ambitions to become a leading hydrogen exporter.  

While much of the Ambassador’s comments focus on energy, it is important to put these developments in the context of the Gulf region’s deeper ambitions to bring about wholesale economic transformation.  The ‘vision’ development strategies published by all six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council reveal a shared ambition to use their energy wealth to take maximum advantage of the opportunities inherent in the energy transition and the 4th Industrial Revolution.  All the Gulf’s leaderships have come to recognise that continued reliance on carbon-based energy revenues is not sustainable over the longer term.

Moreover, the Gulf states recognise the important social and strategic imperatives of moving away from energy dependency, and of building new economies built on knowledge and the exploitation of the full range of digital opportunities.  The EU and the Gulf states have much more in the area of shared interests than merely pursuing new forms of green energy.  There is significant potential for the EU to be a mutually beneficial partnership with the GCC in bringing about the changes being experienced.