Gulf union will require major commitment

Published on 15 March 2012 in Opinion
Gulf News / Editorial / March 12 (author)

Gulf News / Editorial / March 12


The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has not delivered the objectives it set itself, but there is no clear agreement on what to do about this.

Some of the GCC leaders want to move the six nations to a closer political union, but others are worried that this may not be able to work.

The challenge will be to move the loose arrangement of the present GCC into a more formal institutional structure, which would require both a secretariat able to handle decision-making, and a willingness from the member states to cede some of their control to the GCC. It is hard to imagine both happening in the present GCC.

In addition, it is a glaring gap that the proposal for a Gulf union has not included any plan on how to consult the peoples of the GCC nations on such a profound change.

There has been no recommendation that a debate in the parliaments or consultative assemblies would have to happen, or even that a referendum on the idea be held.

The GCC has done moderately well in foreign policy, where it functions as a club of like-minded nations and can reach a consensus on regional issues fairly quickly.

It has offered a lead to the Arab world, even if that was helped by the collapse of the Arab League, and the implosion of the traditional leaders of the Arab world in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and the Arab Spring in Egypt.

But the GCC has not delivered in building closer domestic links between the six member states.

There is freedom of movement and ownership of land which is a big step towards more integrated societies, but mutual recognition of laws and standards is still very haphazard which means that any thought of a single market or trade zone is a long way off from reality.