The Kingdom of Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy whose legal system is based upon the 2002 amended constitution and headed by King Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The country has two legislative bodies: the 40-member Chamber of Deputies elected by universal suffrage and the 40-member royally appointed Shura Council. Political parties are not allowed but political societies were legalised in 2001.
Over the years, the EU has forged constructive political dialogue with members of the Cooperation Council for Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). These countries are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.
The Cooperation Agreement, which was concluded in 1988, forms the basis for the relationship that aims at:
- strengthening the stability in the strategically important region;
- facilitating the political and economic relations;
- broadening economic and technical cooperation;
- further broadening cooperation on energy, industry, trade and services, agriculture, fisheries, investment, science, technology and environment.
Every year, EU foreign ministers meet their GCC counterparts to hold talks on pressing issues. In addition, expert groups have been established to tackle sectoral matters such as macroeconomic questions and energy cooperation.
Cooperation between universities, business and the media also form part of the EU-GCC agenda.