Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, Federal National Council Speaker, with Mogherini. The EU policy chief said the UAE is a source of inspiration for having the first woman Speaker of the FNC. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The European Union, EU, and the United Arab Emirates have a common regional agenda of taking on challenges and making better use of opportunities, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has said.

Speaking during a reception to mark the official opening of the European Union Delegation to the UAE last night, Mogherini said, “We work hand in hand on bilateral issues in an excellent manner.”

The delegation was officially inaugurated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the capital, making it the second office in the region following Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“I believe that we have a common regional agenda. As part of our global strategy we want to work more and more with the UAE, and with the GCC, as there are many challenges in the region, stretching from Libya to Syria, and Yemen. As well as the opportunities in this region, we see room to work and cooperate together in a very firm manner,” she said.

Mogherini, who is visiting the UAE for the first time in her new role, said that her visit will begin an intense session of bilateral meetings. “I have promised my friends today that this will open a session of intense and frequent visits from our side and yours. You are always welcome to Brussels to see us, because we really see the need to work together,” she said.

The European Union Delegation to the UAE was inaugurated by Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, Chairman of the Board of Directors of National Media Council and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini in her first official visit to the UAE.

The ceremony drew several high-profile guests including the Speaker of the Federal National Council, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, Chief of Protocol, Shehab Al Fahim, and several officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and from other government organisations.

Present at the reception were ambassadors of several nations, including Canada, Argentina, Macedonia, EU member states accredited to the UAE, and several other officials from the diplomatic corps.

In her speech, Mogherini said, “My first official visit in my new capacity is an excellent opportunity to celebrate our friendship. The UAE is a country with whom we work hand in hand on bilateral issues in an excellent manner. It is the only country, not only in the region but the only Arab country that has a visa waiver agreement with the European Union.”

“It is also a country with whom we have so much in common in so many different areas, from energy and climate change, to infrastructure, trade, economic, culture relations,” she noted, adding that she is looking forward to the UAE’s hosting of Expo 2020 Dubai.

In his statement on the occasion, Patrizio Fondi, European Union Ambassador to the UAE, said, “Today celebrates the EU delegation’s official inauguration in the United Arab Emirates. This mission is both a symbol and a tangible instrument of friendship and a remarkable momentum for EU-UAE relations.”

“Since my arrival in the UAE, I have witnessed the significant development of bilateral relationship in several fields. The mission is proud to represent the EU in a country whose leadership has a future-oriented vision while maintaining its past and its tradition; keeping a balance between technological progress and the human dimension of individuals,” he added.

He added, “The UAE has been increasingly active on the regional and global scene, proving to be a solid and reliable partner for the EU in several fields, including counter-terrorism, energy, environment, climate change, non-proliferation and economic dialogue.”

The UAE is among the top ten destinations for EU exports. The country is also home to more than 40,000 EU companies and 160,000 EU citizens, and hosts the embassies of 22 EU countries.

—With inputs by WAM