EU Diplomacy Chief Visits Kuwait

EU Diplomacy Chief Visits Kuwait

In October 2021, the European Union (EU) announced its intention to deepen relations and cooperation projects with the Gulf region and is currently working on a Joint Communication on a “Partnership with the Gulf”, which is due to be adopted in 2022.

On Sunday 27 March 2022, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, paid an official visit to the State of Kuwait to meet with the local leaders, including Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah and Foreign Minister Ahmed Nasser Al-Sabah. During their meetings, the High Representative and his Kuwaiti counterparts discussed the war in Ukraine and the repercussions of the Russian invasion on the region and explored ways to further develop bilateral relations between the EU and the Gulf. 

During his visit, the EU Diplomacy Chief also discussed the development of joint projects, in particular those related to renewable energy and the fight against climate change, the Gulf region being particularly affected by this global challenge.

Kuwait occupies a prominent place in the EU foreign policy in the Gulf region. The State was the first Gulf country to sign a Cooperation Arrangement with the EU in 2016. “For the European Union, Kuwait stands out as a close and reliable friend, and one of the most like-minded partners in the wider region. The EU is Kuwait's first import partner and the second biggest trading partner. But we can still do more together,” Borrell said after his meetings. 

While the initial cooperation projects were predominantly political and sectoral, the scope of the projects has gradually expanded to incorporate areas as diverse as education and research, humanitarian and development aid, as well as security and counterterrorism. The decade leading to 2030 is expected to focus on the areas of health, food security, education, digital technology and the green transition.

During the deliberations, other important topics were also discussed, including the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear deal as well as the peace process in the Middle East. Both the EU and Kuwait reiterated their support for the Palestinian people and the two-state solution.

Finally, High Representative Borrell also addressed the Ukrainian crisis in further detail, condemning the Russian attack and warning against Russian state propaganda. The war in Ukraine may have provided further impetus for the EU’s deepening of cooperation with the Gulf States as the bloc seeks to alleviate its dependence on Russian gas and oil by forging stronger partnerships with other energy suppliers. “The current situation makes our partnership with the Gulf even more relevant,” Borrell said, appreciating Kuwait’s stance regarding the Russian invasion and its voting on the United Nations Resolution condemning the invasion and calling for an immediate end to the war. The EU Diplomacy Chief also emphasised that the conflict seriously threatens security and stability worldwide, while stressing that its deleterious effects, including increases in the price of food and other commodities, were already being felt across the world.