EU's Ursula von der Leyen in Abu Dhabi to meet top UAE officials

Visit coincides with a three-day trip by Luigi Di Maio, the bloc's envoy to the Gulf

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi. Bloomberg
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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will arrive in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for an official visit.

Ms von der Leyen is set to meet top UAE officials, according to sources close to the European leader.

European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said the visit is focused on “bilateral relations, with obviously Cop28 in the line of sight, given the presidency of the UAE”.

Over the past few decades, the EU and Gulf states have established a close trading and investment relationship.

Now the European Parliament and the European Council are proposing co-operation on six different levels: trade and investment, the green transition and energy security, regional stability and global security, humanitarian and development issues, reform and human rights, and institutional co-operation.

The EU chief's trip comes at the same time as that of Luigi Di Maio, the bloc's special representative to the Gulf, who is on a three-day visit to the Emirates to meet top UAE officials.

In June, Mr Di Maio, Italy's former foreign minister, officially took office, the first to take up the position.

The position was created following the launch of an EU-led strategic partnership with Gulf countries last year, designed to bring Gulf Co-operation Council countries and the EU closer together.

Mr Di Maio held talks with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.

The two officials “reviewed friendly relations and ways to further develop co-operation between the UAE and EU countries in several sectors, including economic, trade, investment, energy and climate”, said a statement from the UAE's Foreign Ministry.

The EU envoy praised the “distinguished relations between the UAE and the EU countries”.

Talks focused on the UAE’s preparations to host the Cop28 climate change conference in November at Expo City Dubai, as well as UAE-European co-operation in the climate file.

Updated: September 06, 2023, 6:47 PM