The League of Arab States (LAS) with its seat in Cairo, Egypt is an intergovernmental organisation encompassing all Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa, established in Cairo on March 22, 1945, following the adoption of the Alexandria Protocol in 1944. Currently it gathers 22 Arab countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The Arab League’s mandate focuses on strengthening relations between its member states, coordination of their policies and co-operation between them while safeguarding the independence and sovereignty of each member. Over the years, the Arab League has created frameworks for pan-Arabic cooperation on political, security, economic and legal issues. As the only pan-Arab organisation, the EU’s cooperation with LAS provides a unique opportunity to develop closer relations between the Arab World and the European Union.

EU-LAS Cooperation Framework

The 2014 Athens Declaration established the "EU-LAS Strategic Dialogue", fostering a regular dialogue on political and security issues. Since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2015 between the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the LAS General Secretariat, the EU and LAS have maintained an advanced relationship through regular joint meetings taking place at different levels in the context of a political and strategic dialogue. The MoU laid the foundation for mutual practical cooperation, the exchange of diplomats and has as well enabled the establishment of EU-LAS thematic Working Groups, which foster cooperation on expert level between both sides. Composed of LAS Secretariat and EU staff, the Working Groups cover topics such as counter-terrorism, crisis management and early warning, non-proliferation and arms control, migration and climate security. They inform both the Political and Security Committee and Senior Officials of the EEAS and LAS about their respective areas of expertise.

Since 2009, a Liaison Office (‘ECLASLO’) was set up in Malta with as core role to catalyse and incubate new ideas in Euro-Arab cooperation. LAS finances the administration, the Maltese Government offers the premises, and the EU finances the activities and the implementation of the projects.

EU-LAS High Level Meetings

The first EU-LAS Summit was held in 2019 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

EU-LAS Foreign Ministers meetings have taken place in 2012 (Cairo), 2014 (Athens), 2016 (Cairo), and 2019 (Brussels). HRVP Borrell frequently meets with LAS Secretary General Aboul Gheit in relation to ongoing discussions on the Middle East Peace Process.

EU-LAS Cooperation in Practice

Regular cooperation follows a mutually agreed multiannual EU-LAS Joint Work Programme. In addition to regular meetings of joint working groups, it encompasses additional activities such as:

  • The EU regional project "Training and Information Course on Euro-Arab diplomacy" (El-Hiwar/”Dialogue” in Arabic) strives to facilitate the flow of information and to promote dialogue and cooperation between officials from both organisations. Its third phase launched in March 2023 will finance series of workshops, seminars, study visits and policy papers identified by the experts of the EU-LAS Working Groups, e.g. a study visit on EU Migration and asylum policy (September 2023), online workshop on Green Transition and Climate Change (November 2023) and training of trainers in human rights.
  • Within the scope of El-Hiwar project, College of Europe organises a yearly summer school for young professionals. The last one tool place in July 2022. The summer school targets agents of change who have a sense of leadership and a desire to contribute to Euro-Arab dialogue, and who will be future multipliers and drivers in the Euro-Arab dialogue. In addition to officials from the EU and the League of Arab States (LAS), participation is open to experts, CSO/think-tank/academic representatives working on Euro-Arab relations/dialogue or whose area of work is relevant to the Euro-Arab dialogue.
  • The LAS Secretariat also benefited from an EU-financed Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) project based on Council Decision (CFSP) 1998/1789 aimed at helping combat illicit trade in and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the member states of the League of Arab States.
  • The EU-financed CT JUST project aims to support the operationalisation of cooperation in the field of counterterrorism. The main emphasis is support to criminal justice reform, promoting regional and international cooperation between countries to guarantee the security of their citizens in conformity with international law standards, Human Rights and the Rule of Law
  • The EU-financed project Halaqat, implemented throughout 2021/22 by the Goethe-Institut in collaboration with Brussels based Bozar cultural institute, served to foster people to people contacts in the cultural domain.