20 Jan 2011

Reinforcing Interregional Cooperation between the EU and the GCC: Scenarios for a modification of visa policies

Anaïs Faure Atger / Elspeth Guild

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Both the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are major political and economic actors, and the development of strategic partnerships in selected areas between the regions is among the priorities on their respective agendas. The existence of complex visa policies and practices between the two regions, however, constitutes a fundamental barrier preventing the promotion of exchanges between these regions when encouraging people-to-people contacts, developing commercial relations or exchanging knowledge. This paper aims at evaluating the possibilities for the visa rules of both regions being modified in order to reflect the privileged partnership that the EU and the GCC are willing to further develop. It concludes by putting forward policy recommendations and three scenarios on the possible ways to overcome current issues and implement new strategies for visa policy in the context of public diplomacy and outreach in EU–GCC relations.