Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)
High Representative Catherine Ashton led the EU Delegation to the 23rd session of the Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) held in Manama, capital of the Kingdom of Bahrain, on 30 June 2013. The two blocs remain key partners on a number of issues and the emphasis both sides place on the Joint Council reflects this.
Co-chaired by H.E. Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the meeting covered a number of discussions on a range of topics including joint economic growth and trade between the EU and Gulf states. The High Representative noted the 'spectacular' increase in bilateral trade, which is now worth € 145 billion annually between European Union and Gulf states.
The Ministers also welcomed the current efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry to reinvigorate the Middle East Peace Process, reaffirming their shared position that a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East is vital for international peace and security.
Following the meeting, the High Representative thanked the hosts and emphasised just how important the strong and evolving relationship between the EU and the Gulf Countries is, describing it as "extremely important, and increasingly important".