of the meeting of 28 April 2016, 14.00-16.00
The meeting opened at 14.00 on Thursday, 28 April 2016, with Michèle Alliot-Marie (Chair) presiding.
1. Adoption of draft agenda (PE 575.461)
The draft agenda was adopted without changes.
2. Approval of minutes of meeting of 25 February 2016 (PE 575.471)
The minutes of the meeting of 25 February 2016 were approved without changes.
3. Chair’s announcements
The Chair welcomed the first visit of the newly created GCC Joint Parliamentary Committee, which has been set up in order to boost relations between the GCC Consultative Councils and the European Parliament.
She underlined that the creation of this joint committee and its first visit to Brussels demonstrate the efforts of the GCC countries to step up their engagement with their European counterparts.
4. Exchange of views on EU-GCC relations and Interparliamentary cooperation with Members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of the Gulf Cooperation Council
Participants underlined the importance of EU-GCC multilateral cooperation in addition to bilateral relations.
There was common understanding that EU-GCC dialogue and cooperation needs to be increased, particularly with a view to the following issues:
• the multiple crises in the Middle East, especially Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya
• the fight against, and prevention of, radicalisation, extremism and terrorism
• the migration crisis
• relations with Iran; the GCC delegation emphasised that its criticism is addressed to the Iranian regime and not to the Iranian people
• the increase in, and consequences of, sectarianism
• the Middle East Peace Process
• inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue; deepening mutual knowledge and understanding
• trade, energy, sustainable development, research, education.
Regarding the issue of human rights, Members of the European Parliament stressed that the human rights record of the Gulf States needs to be improved and that both sides should engage in a constructive dialogue while respecting the values and specificities of each side.
The representatives of the GCC criticised that some NGOs and European media outlets spread misleading information about the GCC States and asked Members of the European Parliament to double-check this information before issuing resolutions. They also asked them to talk to both sides and to take into account the information provided by the GCC governments. Moreover, they stressed that stereotyping is damaging and that there should be dialogue and cooperation despite the differences between the cultures, traditions, identities and religions. Furthermore, they argued that change cannot and should not be imposed from outside but that it needs to take place in the pace and manner of the GCC countries.
Both Members of the European Parliament and Members of the GCC Consultative Councils expressed the wish to hold meetings of this kind on a regular basis.
5. Any other business
6. Date and place of next meeting
The next meeting will take place in Brussels on 23 June 2016.
The meeting closed at 16.00.