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DARP: The Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula

The European Parliament has had a delegation focusing on the Arab Peninsula since 1979, the year of the first direct elections to the European Parliament.

Over the course of almost four decades, the delegation has maintained a keen interest in the economic and social development and the democratisation of the Gulf region, particularly with those states that have functioning parliamentary institutions.

The delegation's connections make it possible to highlight Parliament's political priorities. These are generally the priorities of the European Union in its relations with the Gulf countries, although the Parliament has been particularly vocal in pointing to human rights abuses in the area.

Name change

While the aim of the delegation has remained fairly steady, the name of the delegation and its scope has shifted since it was first established.

Initially called the "Delegation for relations with the Gulf States", the delegation was merged in 1994 with another focusing on the Mashreq countries, becoming the "Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries and Gulf States".

The two were separated again in 1994, with one group assigned to "relations with the Mashreq countries" and another to "relations with the Gulf States, including Yemen".

It was only at the start of the Parliament's sixth legislature, in 2009, that the delegation assumed its current name, "Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula".

Inter-parliamentary meetings

The delegation has held inter-parliamentary meetings (IPMs) with many states' legislatures since the 1980s.

The first such meeting was held with North Yemen (the Yemen Arab Republic) in February 1984. In February 1988 the Parliament's delegation held inaugural inter-parliamentary meetings with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Some 30 months later, in September 1990, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates met with MEPs for the first time.

Since these initial contacts, the delegation has continued to meet with legislators from the region, although the rhythm of these encounters has varied.

In total, a dozen inter-parliamentary meetings have been held with Saudi Arabia, and eight with Kuwait. Meetings with counterparts from Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Yemen have been less frequent, although the countries have remained a subject of the delegation's discussions.

Eighth legislature (2014-1029)

Following the elections of May 2014, the DARP Delegation was reconstituted with new members. Michèle Alliot-Marie (EPP, France) was elected Chair.

Since then, the Delegation has held regular meetings on issues pertaining to political developments in the Middle East in general and in the Gulf countries in particular.

One of the delegation's most pressing concerns at the moment is the war in Yemen. Since the onset of the conflict, the Delegation has held several meetings focusing on the humanitarian situation in the country.

The activities of the delegation are organised in cooperation with the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission, experts and representatives of think tanks and civil society.