The Purpose and Objectives of Formation
Development of regional blocks have been created throughout decades. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and European Union are some of the most influential regional blocks in the contemporary world. It is necessary to note that the two organisations have much in common, though there are various differences.
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For instance, one of the major and primary objectives of these unions creation was economic as members of the blocks obtained an opportunity to develop their economies more effectively. It is possible to take a closer look at the purpose of creation of each union.
The GCC was founded in 1981 as an economic union of some countries of the Middle East (Low & Salazar, 2011). At the same time, the union also aimed at development of similar regulations and paradigms in the sphere of finance, legislation, customs, administration, trade and religion. The member states also collaborated closely in the field of scientific research, business and education. They also aimed at creation of a single currency.
At the same time, the EU was created on the basis of the European Communities that were established in the 1960s. The EU was officially formed in 1993 (Bache, George & Bulmer, 2011). The major aim of the block was also financial as member states could create favourable conditions for development of their economies through establishment of close business ties.
At the same time, the union was also inspired by the will of Europeans to resist excessive nationalism that led to the devastating wars in the first part of the 20th century (Chalmers, Davies & Monti, 2010). The union was aimed at development of close relations in the field of economy, finance, politics, scientific research, education and creation of a single currency.
Member States (Brief Profile)
The GCC includes the following countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (Khamis & Semlali, 2010). As for the EU, it includes significantly more member states that joined the union at different times. It includes 28 European countries and the founders are Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Germany.
The two unions also have certain similarities in the area of governance and politics. For instance, the supreme council is the governing body of the GCC. It is constituted by the heads of the countries included in the organisation (Khamis & Semlali, 2010). This authority focuses on major and strategic issues and each decision has to get the unanimous approval. Each member of the organisation has one vote.
Another important body is the Ministerial Council that is constituted by Foreign Ministers of the member states. This body focuses on various regulations and programs aimed at achievement of the goals set. The executive body of the organisation is the Secretariat General that implements decisions made (Low & Salazar, 2011). The Monetary Council is another important body that focuses on development of the single currency for the member states.
The EU’s governance is implemented through a number of bodies. The Primary body is the European Parliament. This is the authority that develops laws and regulations for the member states. Other bodies include, the European Council, the European commission, the Court of Justice if the EU, the European Court of Auditors (Vanhoonacker, 2011). The European Central Bank is the body that focuses on monetary policies and development of the so-called Eurozone.
As Common Market
The two regional blocks in question are characterised by common markets. As for the GCC, the common market came into being in 2008. The movement of products as well as services was significantly simplified. However, the crisis of the 2008 slowed down the process of development of the common market (Ahmad & Al Faris, 2010).
Simplified customs regulations contributed greatly to development of the common market within the block. At present, the member states have a unified market where people living within the boundaries of the block have equal opportunities in the spheres of business, real estate, insurance, education, access to health services. Of course, there are still various barriers when it come to the movement of products. Taxation is also different in the member states though there are attempts to develop similar regulations.
The EU is also characterised by a common market. More so, the majority of the member states use single currency (Euro). The customs regulations contribute to development of close ties between the member states and free flow of products, capital, services as well as people is ensured (Bache et al., 2011). Notably, there are no customs duties or import quotas for member states, which contributes greatly to the development of the economies of the member states as well as the entire block. Importantly, the global financial crisis also had a negative impact on the EU but the block managed to overcome the difficulties and now it is looking for ways to address new challenges.
As a Monetary Union
The monetary union is the area where the two block differ significantly. Thus, the GCC does not have a single currency though there have been attempts to establish it since 2009 (Ahmad & Al Faris, 2010). Kuwait is the strongest advocate of establishment of the single currency. However, the UAE and Oman are not willing to participate in the monetary union. At the same time, currencies of the member states are used within the block, which can be seen as the first phase and the start of establishment of the single currency.
As far as the EU is concerned, there is the single currency (Euro) that is accepted in the majority of the member states. Such countries as the UK, Denmark and Sweden are unwilling to join the Eurozone as they consider it to be a hazard to their economies. It is necessary to note that the European Central Bank implements quite a strict policy, as there are various regulations to follow for member states as well as countries that want to join the Eurozone. There are also various funds that support the currency during financial crises.
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Major Industries and Infrastructure
As for the major industries, the GCC focuses on production of oil and gas. The member states control around 40% of the world’s reserves of these natural resources (Ahmad & Al Faris, 2010). The infrastructure is still under development as member states are working on establishment of the unified system of water supply. As for transportation, there are various types of transport that can be used to travel from one member state to another.
As far as the EU is concerned, around 60% of its GDP is comprised by the sector of services (Chalmers et al., 2010). The block can be characterised by quite a significant degree of diversity. The infrastructure in the EU is highly developed and the transportation opportunities are very diverse.
The two regional blocks are seen as significant powers that affect development of the member states as well as the development of the region. However, the blocks also face various challenges. For instance, the GCC has to cope with issues related to the lack of stability in the global oil market (Ahmad & Al Faris, 2010).
The block also faces a considerable pressure created by the emerging markets. The EU is also affected by the competition created by the emerging market (Chalmers et al., 2010). Some member states fail to follow monetary regulations and the currency is under significant pressure. Many member states are still unable to recover from the global financial crisis. Of course, both blocks have to deal with their member states’ desire to focus on their economies development at the expense of other member states.
As for socio-cultural issues, it is possible to note that the countries in the two blocks are quite diverse culturally and ethnically. This creates certain tension within the GCC and EU. It is necessary to add that the two blocks have quite similar challenges including raising nationalism, religious extremism and people’s dissatisfaction with economic and social programs established in the member states of the EU and GCC.
When it comes to political challenges, it is necessary to note that the two blocks are characterised by certain degree of stability, as there are particular bodies that have particular areas of concern. However, the EU is characterised by more flexibility. It is noteworthy that member states of the GCC have quite different perspectives on the further development of the block, especially when it comes to new members (Low & Salazar, 2011).
The Gaps between GCC and EU
On balance, it is possible to note that the two blocks have similarities as well as differences. The following gaps can be identified. The GCC lacks the necessary flexibility in many spheres. The EU is more diverse economically and, hence, it is more successful in the global as well as regional market. The EU does not depend heavily on some industry. Political decisions are also more flexible as the authorities of the GCC are less likely to compromise.
It is possible to provide a number of suggestions to address the challenges the GCC is facing. First, it is possible to increase collaboration between representative of member states in the Ministerial Council. This body has to have a strategic vision. The GCC should focus on addressing the rising competition rather than focus on specific political or economic gains for particular member states. Political decisions should be more flexible.
Of course, economic diversification should be a priority of the economic development of the GCC. The member states should make sure that they can affect the global oil market. At the same time, it is important to develop other sectors of economy.
Finally, further integration can be beneficial for the GCC. Of course, the single currency may be still debatable but it is essential to make sure that there are no barriers to the flow of products, services, people and capital. This will ensure development of the member states and the entire block as the block will be able to operate as a single entity rather than a union of countries focusing on their economic and national interests.
Ahmad, E., & Al Faris, A. (2010). Fiscal reforms in the Middle East: VAT in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Bache, I., George, S., & Bulmer, S. (2011). Politics in the European Union. Oxford, UK: OUP Oxford.
Chalmers, D., Davies, G., & Monti, G. (2010). European Union law: Cases and Materials. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Khamis, M.Y., & Semlali, A.S. (2010). Impact of the global financial crisis on the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and challenges ahead: An update. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund.
Low, L., & Salazar, L.C. (2011). The Gulf Cooperation Council: A rising power and lessons for ASEAN. Pasir Panjang, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
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