Dubai-UAE: 23 March, 2011 – The European Union is trying to diversify its sources of energy imports and reduce reliance on Russian natural gas. Accordingly, it has started to reach out to Gulf countries for a secure source of this natural resource. In order to assess whether broadening the strategic relationship between the EU and the GCC is to the benefit of both sides, Europe’s energy security challenges first need to be examined, according to Justin Dargin, Research Fellow at The Dubai Initiative and Fulbright Scholar of the Middle East.
The implications of this relationship were discussed during a lecture titled “The European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council: Forging a New Strategic Relationship,” held at the Dubai School of Government (DSG), a research and teaching institution that focuses on public policy in the Arab world. The lecture was sponsored by the Kanoo Group, a Gulf-based multinational group of companies with over 100 years of entrepreneurial experience and a commitment to community, diversity and environment.
The lecture addressed the energy diversification strategy of the EU, particularly of Eastern European states, in the context of reduced reliance on Russia. It also examined the geopolitical and economic dimensions of the GCC countries and the EU.
Dargin said: “Seeing that the GCC has some of the largest natural gas reserves but only contributes to a small percent of global production allows it to simultaneously benefit from the strategic relationship with the EU. The EU forecasts that its energy needs will have to be met externally over the next 20-30 years, and the GCC’s ability to be the provider of these energy needs will boost their exports of natural gas.
“Other factors, however, may affect this tactical relationship, such as the growing global demand for Gulf energy from Asia and domestic Gulf industries, which might limit the exports of gas to the EU.”
His Excellency Tariq Lootah, Executive President of the Dubai School of Government, said: “Because of its abundant natural gas resources, the GCC is a natural partner as the EU seeks to diversify its energy sources. However, as Justin Dargin notes, it is important for GCC policy makers to have a clear picture of the geopolitical and economic factors which inform the interests of the two sides, in order to make sound decisions regarding GCC-EU energy relations.”
Established in 2005 in cooperation with the Harvard Kennedy School, the Dubai School of Government (DSG) aims to promote good governance through enhancing the region’s capacity for effective public policy. The institution remains committed to the creation of knowledge, dissemination of best practice and training of policy makers in the Arab world.