Date: March 8, 2022
Derasat Center hosts discussions to enhance Bahraini-European relations
Event marks the first anniversary of the signing of the Cooperation Arrangement between Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and EU’s Diplomatic Arm
The Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat) hosted a discussion panel titled ‘EU-Bahrain: A Multi-Dimensional Partnership’, on Monday, 7 March 2022, to discuss further enhancing relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the European Union. The event coincides with the first anniversary of the signing of the Cooperation Arrangement between Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European External Action Service signed on 10 February 2021, which provides an institutional framework for political dialogue and cooperation in areas such as trade, research, and innovation, clean energy, and renewables.
Panelists included H.E. Mr. Patrick Simonnet, EU Ambassador to KSA, Bahrain and Oman, and H.E. Mr. Ahmed Al-Qarainees, Chief of European Affairs at the Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Dr. Andrea Cozzi, Managing Director of Eni in Bahrain and Mrs. Rim Jalali, Executive Director of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Bahrain (FCCIB). The audience included MoFA staff, representatives from other organizations, and Derasat researchers. Discussions covered major economic, cultural, and environmental, and opportunities to enhance cooperation and further develop mutual interests.
H.E. Dr. Hamad Ebrahim Al-Abdulla, Derasat Executive Director, said, “The Kingdom of Bahrain views the European Union as a distinguished regional organization and a model for integration and complementarity; one that the Kingdom ensures it develops its relations with bilaterally or holistically.”
Dr. Al-Abdulla pointed to estimations that indicated a commercial exchange worth 2.5 billion Euros between Bahrain and the EU until the end of 2021, in addition to the numerous European companies operating in Bahrain, and European expertise found in the Kingdom’s public and private sectors.
Derasat’s Executive Director referred to the increased frequency of exchanged visits between both sides in the past few years, ensuring how keen they are on developing their relations based on the largely entwined interests, as confirmed by regional challenges, especially the COVID pandemic. He said that energy security and climate change are additional challenges, and all of them require an extended mutual dialog to coordinate the efforts in countering these challenges.
H.E. EU Ambassador Patrick Simonnet said, “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Bahrain is multi-dimensional given its importance as an EU partner.” He also stated that signing the 2021 Cooperation Agreement was a significant step in developing multi-sector relations, including economic and commercial diversification, research and innovation, human rights, clean energy, and renewable energy sources – a field in which the EU is at the global forefront. He pointed to the EU’s work on enhancing individual relations through the exchange of students and researchers.
Bahrain MoFA’s European Affairs Chief H.E. Mr. Ahmed Ebrahim Al-Qarainees affirmed the need for strengthened bilateral relations with the EU in all areas. He described the relations as rapidly growing in economic, educational, environmental, and parliamentary aspects, due to the focus by the Kingdom’s wise leadership on cooperating with the EU in more constructive aspects. He said that such meetings are crucial in setting the frameworks for cooperation, based on previous achievements to increase Bahrain-EU partnerships.
Dr. Andrea Cozzi, Managing Director of Eni in Bahrain and Lebanon, and Deputy Managing Director and Head of Geoscience in Eni UAE, said that Eni, the Italian oil company, entered Bahrain in 2019, and is seeking opportunities for hydrocarbon excavation, renewables, and liquified natural gas (LNG). He added that Eni also pursues supply initiatives, carbon circular economy, managing water and soil, waste recycling, and advancing the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Bahrain’s Vision 2030, as well as contributing to Bahrain’s future energy needs in a more efficient and sustainable way.
Mrs. Rim Jalali, Executive Director of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Bahrain (FCCIB), one of the most active foreign business organizations in the Kingdom, said, “I am delighted to discuss the dynamic French business presence in the Kingdom, in banking, retail, hospitality, and industry; all reflecting how keen numerous French corporations indeed are in making Bahrain their regional base, a trend that can grow in the post-COVID environment.”
Participants stressed the importance of enhancing joint work to counter climate change, protect the environment and invest in renewable energy. They praised similar commitments by member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, welcoming their active participation in the UN’s climate conference and exchange of views on issues of mutual interest.