Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 03/2010

EU and GCC Strategic Interests in the Mediterranean: Convergence and Divergence

Roberto Aliboni

December 2009

Istituto Affari Internazionali


The European and Arab countries gathering respectively in the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), while sharing a number of important strategic and political interests, have developed distinctly different broad patterns of strategic concerns and relations in the last twenty to thirty years. Both of them have special concerns for their respective neighbourhood, on the one hand, and extremely significant global relations, on the other. However, there is no doubt that the GCC countries have gone global more than the European Union, especially on political ground, whereas the European Union has focused on its neighbourhood and structured its neighbourhood framework far more significantly than the GCC. Most importantly, while both the GCC and the EU countries have a pivotal, yet separate political and security alliance with the United States, the former are now fundamentally oriented towards Asia from a strategic perspective, whereas the EU is oriented towards North America and its own neighbourhood - from the Mediterranean to Russia - with the GCC playing a definitely more distant role.