Europe and the Arab world need to strengthen trade relations, speakers at EU-Arab Summit

In the near future, oil prices will increase, Economist Dr. Abdullah Al Kuwaiz said in a speech on the state of Saudi Arabia’s economy on Friday, on the first day of the 2nd EU-Arab World Summit at the Athens Concert Hall. The two-day summit seeks to discuss strategies for Euro-Arab cooperation.

Dr Claire Spencer, Senior Research Fellow in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Program at Chatham House, said the solutions to the problems of Arab regions will come only through joint action between Europe and the Arab world. “Revolutionary technologies, such as blockchain, are expected to radically change the entrepreneurship,” she said.

Ines Ayala Sender, Chair of the interparliamentary group of the European Parliament on the relations with the Maghreb countries, spoke about the stability which is needed to handle challenges and avoid crises, noting it is not just conflicts, but also climate change. “It is a global problem that requires equally our attention as it causes even larger population movements. She said the group tries to identify tools and instruments that will strengthen the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), but also meeting points where Europe and Arab countries will be able to work together in the future.

Philipp Simon Andree Director of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry for North Africa and the Middle East, focused on the efforts to strengthen trade relations between Europe and the Arab world. Andree said Arab countries do not usually speak to the EU – they prefer to talk directly to representatives of member-states, which is a habit that needs to be changed.

Mattia Toaldo, Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, spoke of the need for economic and political reforms to ensure security and tackle refugee flows. “We need to create manageable borders- not open or closed,” he said.