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China’s energy policy dynamics in the Persian Gulf region

Implications for the EU’s energy security in the transition era

This working paper explores China’s energy policy dynamics in the Persian Gulf region and the Implications for the EU’s energy security.

SEI Tallin energy expert, Javad Keypour assesses what challenges the EU faces to protect its security of energy supply from the Persian Gulf region, with a focus on Iran and Saudi Arabia, and the effec­tiveness of the EU’s policies, considering historical, political, and economic factors. Through content analysis and expert interviews, he shares insights into the EU’s energy se­curity challenges and potential solutions.

Dubai city image

Photo: Cliff Hellis/Flickr

The EU on the Persian Gulf energy security chessboard

“The regional dynamics in the Persian Gulf, par­ticularly in the present climate resembles a constantly changing chessboard, with state and non-state actors as the pieces while all the actors must be attuned to each oth­er’s strategic manoeuvres”, said Javad.

During the 1990s, the EU played a significant role in shaping its energy policy in the Persian Gulf region, but several combined factors has led to the EU’s diminishing regional influ­ence.

Compared to the EU, China has strategically expanded its cooperation with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, pri­marily for economic growth, energy security, and to coun­terbalance US influence in the Middle East. China has also enhanced its relations with Iran, aiming at protecting its energy security interests and asserting its influence in the region without military involvement.

The findings suggest the EU faces significant challenges in playing a proactive role in the Persian Gulf due to internal con­straints, including a lack of unanimity among its member states in foreign policy’s priorities and interests, and pres­sure from both left- and right-wing groups within the EU’s influential entities. The author presents a set of recommendations for EU to function as a security actor in the region.

Authors of this publication

Javad Keypour ,