A delegation from the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee visited the State of Qatar in order to discuss the further development of relations between Qatar and the EU as well as the situation in the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula.
The seven-Member delegation, led by Andrej Plenković, the Vice-Chair of the Committee (EPP, HR), was composed of Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR), Tokia Saïfi (EPP, FR), Afzal Khan (S&D, UK), Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D, IT), Mark Demesmaeker (ECR, BE) and Jozo Radoš (ALDE, HR).
Members met with the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the speaker of the Majlis al Shoura, Mr Mohammed bin Mubarak Al-Khulaifi, other Members of the Majlis, and Sheikh Abdulla Bin Saoud Al-Thani, Governor of Qatar National Bank.
During their meetings with Qatari interlocutors, Members discussed the security situation in the region, particularly in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Egypt and relations with Iran. The need for further diplomatic dialogue and foreign policy concertation between the EU and Qatar regarding the shared commitment to peace and stability in the region was emphasised.
MEPs expressed interest in an intensification of economic and trade relations between the EU and Qatar, which is already at a high level, especially with respect to investments and energy (Liquefied Natural Gas). Qatari authorities informed the delegation about the overall economic situation, monetary stability and the Qatar Vision 2030, which entails less dependency on hydrocarbons and more dynamic socio-economic diversification. MEPs concluded that the possibilities for enhancing business and economic opportunities would be improved through the negotiations on the EU-GCC Free-Trade Agreement.
In the context of large infrastructure undertakings in preparation for hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, MEPs raised the issue of the labour conditions of foreign workers living in Qatar, while the hosts informed about the improvements made in respect to the legislative framework in order to guarantee better human rights and working standards.
The head of the EP delegation, Mr Plenković stated: “We appreciated the open and substantive discussion that we held with the Emir and Shura Members. The EU sees Qatar as an important partner and a prominent actor which has positioned itself on the international scene and is contributing to peace and stability in the Middle East and Africa. We are ready to intensify the parliamentary cooperation and exchanges with the Shura in the framework of the relevant EP bodies as well as through the new Joint Parliamentary Committee of the Consultative Councils of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).”