The second Senior Officials Meeting under the framework of the Cooperation Arrangement between the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was held virtually on 3 March 2021. The meeting was co-chaired by Mohammed Al Shehhi, Director for European Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Deputy Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa in the EEAS Carl Hallergard.
The two sides welcomed progress in the implementation of the Cooperation Arrangement signed in 2018, which contributed to boosting cooperation in a number of policy areas, including economy, agriculture, trade, advanced sciences, renewable energy and climate transition, security and counter-terrorism, and development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. The UAE and the EU also reiterated the importance of joint efforts to combat COVID-19. Both sides committed to continuing to exchange best practices in pandemic response. Moreover, both sides noted the importance of Expo 2020 Dubai in further strengthening EU-UAE relations. The EU will participate in Expo 2020 Dubai events and activities in partnership with its Member States, Expo organizers, and other partners.
Trade, Economic Diversification, and Digital Transformation
During the meeting, both sides discussed ways to further facilitate trade and investment cooperation. In particular, dialogue took place in respect to the two sides’ efforts to remove impediments to trade, to expand investment ties, and to work collaboratively in cutting edge sectors, including, but not limited to renewable energy, food security, space sciences, digitalization, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.
Security and Counterterrorism
The meeting also allowed both sides to review cooperation to date and jointly identify new opportunities in the security and counterterrorism fields, including in the context of the UAE CBRN Hub and the Hedayah Center. Both sides agreed to explore additional opportunities to exchange best practices and expertise in security-related activities (notably preventing and countering violent extremism), continue their structured dialogue on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, and deepen cooperation in the area of asset recovery.
Development Cooperation, Humanitarian Assistance, and Multilateral Cooperation
Both sides discussed ways to enhance policy dialogue and explore cooperation in the fields of development cooperation and humanitarian assistance, particularly in the Middle East and Horn of Africa. Both looked forward to the upcoming fifth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region.” The EU and the UAE also exchanged views on how to deepen cooperation in promoting the Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and empowerment and protection of women. Both sides also stressed the importance of developing EU-UAE cooperation on migration in line with the principle of shared responsibility. Within the overall aim of deepening cooperation in people-to-people contacts, the EU presented opportunities for the participation of Emirati students, researchers, and innovators in EU programs, including Horizon Europe and Erasmus+.
It was agreed that the next Senior Officials Meeting between the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the EEAS would take place in 2022, with the venue to be determined.