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Introduction

DARP: The Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula

The Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula is responsible for maintaining and developing relations between the European Parliament and the countries of the Arab Peninsula (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Among the delegation's partners, the GCC has a particular role: the Council - much like the EU - works on some of the complex challenges affecting its region.

The delegation highlights Parliament's political priorities through its meetings and activities. While these generally align with the priorities of the European Union in relation to the Gulf countries, the Parliament has particularly emphasised human rights issues and the development of democracy.

Members

The European Parliament's delegation counts 15 full members, as well as a strong cohort a number of substitute members.

The Chair of the delegation is Michèle Alliot-Marie, a French member of the European Parliament's Group of the European People's Party. She is supported by two vice-chairs: MEPs Alessia Maria Mosca and Salvatore Cicu.

The Chair and Vice-Chairs are elected by the other members of the delegation.

Framework for bilateral relations

The framework for economic and political cooperation between the EU and the GCC countries is contained in a "Cooperation Agreement".

Signed in 1988, the agreement set out to improve trade relations and stability in a strategic region that is part of the EU's extended neighbourhood. The agreement created a Joint Council and a Joint Cooperation Committee, which meet once a year.

While efforts to create a free trade agreement between the GCC and the EU have not succeeded, the two sides agreed in April 2016 to establish a more structured dialogue about trade and investment. The first meeting of this dialogue was held in May 2017.

Delegation's working methods

The EP Delegation monitors closely these discussions, as well as developments in the region.

The delegation meets regularly with counterparts from in all the countries of the Arab Peninsula in "inter-parliamentary meetings" (IPMs), which are held either in the European Parliament or in the Gulf countries.

In addition, the delegation holds regular meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg to discuss bilateral and multilateral relations and pressing issues. Senior staff from the European External Action Service and the Commission, researchers from think tanks, non-governmental organisations and diplomats all regularly contribute to the discussions in these meetings.