The summit is an opportunity to further strengthen relations and join forces to take on common challenges
The EU-League of Arab States (LAS) summit will bring together for the first time heads of state or government from both sides.
On 24 February, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, opened the meeting by stressing the importance of cooperation between the EU and the League of Arab States:
"Our neighbourhood is something real, which means that being closer is in fact not a choice but a must, although we are aware that there are differences between us. With neighbours there are two ways of existence: cooperation or conflict. We choose cooperation."
Opening remarks by President Donald Tusk at the EU-LAS summit in Egypt, 24 February 2019
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President Donald Tusk will co-chair the meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. He will represent the EU along with President Jean-Claude Juncker. High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn will also attend the summit.
Leaders from both sides will seek to strengthen Arab-European ties. They will also address a wide range of issues and common challenges, such as:
-trade and investment
-the situation in the region
The summit will also provide an opportunity for leaders to discuss the latest developments in the region, such as the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in Yemen, in Libya and in Syria.
The summit will take place in the International Congress Centre in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Ahead of the summit, foreign ministers from the EU and the LAS gathered in Brussels for a ministerial meeting.
EU relations with the League of Arab States
Since the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2015, the EU and LAS have maintained an advanced relationship, including:
-biennial ministerial meetings
-annual meetings between the EU Political and Security Committee and the LAS Permanent Representatives
The EU and the LAS have also launched in 2015 a strategic dialogue to develop the Euro-Arab operational cooperation on security issues.
The two regions are already major trade and investment partners. Collectively the EU is the first trading partner for the LAS. This is also the case for 11 individual members of the LAS. The EU is also the biggest investor in the LAS countries.
About the League of Arab States
The League of Arab States is the only pan-Arab grouping gathering all Arab countries. It includes 22 member states from Africa and the Middle East: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Syria's membership was suspended in 2011, and it is not participating in the summit.
Indicative programme (local time)
Restricted session - Addressing regional challenges together
Second plenary session - Enhancing the Euro-Arab partnership and addressing global challenges together (part 2)