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Among the top Arab donors, Kuwait is also an important ally of the EU in the humanitarian field. The EU and Kuwait have demonstrated their readiness to cooperate on jointly tackling international challenges by co-chairing several important international events, such as the Brussels Conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region, the Kuwait International Conference on the reconstruction of Iraq or the International Conference on the Plight of the Rohingya.
The relations between the EU and Kuwait have been historically strong. Kuwait has played a key role in promoting region-to-region engagement between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) under the framework of the 1988 EU-GCC Cooperation Agreement. More recently, our bilateral relations have experienced a major impetus. Kuwait was the first country in the Gulf to sign a Cooperation Arrangement with the European External Action Service (EEAS) in July 2016. The Cooperation Arrangement provides a platform for regular political consultations covering common regional challenges in the Middle East and beyond. It also provides for sectoral consultations in the fields of energy (including clean and renewable energy), security and counter-terrorism, development cooperation and other areas of mutual interest.
Economic ties between the EU and Kuwait are also an important focus of the bilateral relation as the EU is the third trade partner for Kuwait (2018 statistics). The two sides are engaged in regular dialogue on trade and investment and macroeconomic issues under the GCC framework. The first EU-GCC business forum was held in Kuwait in March 2019. The EU is keen to enhance this dialogue in support of Kuwait's "Vision 2035" to diversify its economy, building up on the long-established ties that EU Member States enjoy with Kuwait.
Kuwaiti people and civil society in Kuwait are an integral part of the relations between the EU and Kuwait. On a people-to-people level, the EU offers the opportunity to students, researchers and higher education and research institutions from Kuwait to participate in Erasmus+ and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, with special funding allocated to support candidates from the Gulf region.
In December 2018, the EU awarded the EU-GCC Human rights Chaillot Prize to LOYAC, a Kuwait based non-profit organisation working on professional development and personal growth of young people, in recognition of its great work in empowering youth and women, and in enriching civic and cultural life in Kuwait. The EU also regularly supports cultural activities in Kuwait, in partnership with local civil society organisations.