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The Delegation of the European Union to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf is a fully accredited diplomatic mission and is one of over 140 EU Delegations around the world. The Delegation was officially opened in Riyadh in 2004 and represents the European Union to the GCC Secretariat and 5 of the 6 countries of the GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, (a delegation to the United Arab Emirates opened in 2013)
Originally launched as a European Commission Delegation, the role of the Delegation was historically changed with the introduction of a new European Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty, in December 2009. Under the newly appointed High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy the EU has set up a unified diplomatic service called the European External Action Service (EEAS). Under the EEAS the renamed European Union Delegation now represents the EU as a whole, rather than the European Commission solely, with the Ambassador accredited as the official representative of the European Union. The EU Delegation now has a mandate to speak on the behalf of member states where there is unanimous agreement in foreign policy areas. In addition the role of the EU Delegation took on increased importance in July 2010 when it assumed the position of the local Presidency which entails representing and acting on behalf of the EU in Saudi Arabia. In the past this local Presidency has rotated between member states embassies every six months, however, the Delegation now holds this role wherever a Delegation is present; in countries where there is no Delegation the rotating Presidency continues (this includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
The changes brought by the Treaty of Lisbon facilitate cooperation between the two regions and has given the EU a stronger voice on global issues, such as the economic and financial crisis, climate change and terrorism as well as a more unified and important voice globally. The Gulf States are close neighbours and as such, exchanges in all fields — political, economic and cultural — are desired to be increased. The strengthened, unified European voice makes the EU an even more active, attractive and reliable partner of the six GCC states.
The Delegation has a diverse staff comprising several European and Arab nationalities. The responsibilities of the Delegation (what we do) covers a wide variety of areas including political relations, security, trade and external assistance. The Delegation deals with the broad political and economic agenda between the EU and the Gulf countries, at a bilateral and regional level. With the aim of helping to integrate the Gulf and European economies the Delegation helps facilitate trade relations with the countries of the Gulf and the GCC, an area of great importance as the EU is the largest trading partners of the GCC. We interact not only with government ministries, but also with the business community, civil society and non-governmental organisations in a wide arena, covering political, economic, commercial, financial and technical fields.
Where there is an approved mandate from member states the Delegation also conducts negotiations on their behalf. Moreover, it shares background information, news and developments on European integration, EU policies, and EU-Gulf cooperation programmes with the concerned Government agencies, the media, business and academic circles. Additionally we work with governmental and civil society institutions on developing key functional sectors in the countries we are accredited to.
The Delegation is involved in analysis and reporting of current local and regional issues to the EU headquarters in Brussels which affect countries to which we are accredited. We also work to promote EU interests and values in the Gulf and support several projects to this end. We are also involved in raising awareness and promoting the EU and its policies to the general public as well as the state and private sectors.