Putting those fine words into action has proved altogether more difficult when the reality of co-operation and political compromise dawns and national interests come to the fore.
This week, significant progress has been made on two huge projects that will, in their different ways, test the co-operation of the bloc to its limits unless the member states can overcome their usual antipathy to unified action.
In Jeddah, GCC finance chiefs approved proposals to set up a monetary council, the forerunner to a central bank, and a draft charter for monetary union. Meanwhile, in Riyadh, the group conducting the feasibility study into the GCC Railway project submitted its findings to the GCC Secretariat. Construction is scheduled to begin within two years.
In each case, deciding the location of centralised regulators for each project is likely to prove a stumbling block.
The rail study group has recommended a single regulator, contravening the initial preference of member states for individual bodies to oversee each country’s section of track.
Objectively, this body should be in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom has the largest and most developed rail network, and has already begun to overhaul the Saudi Railways Organisation to oversee its projects. The GCC Railway could slot neatly into this portfolio.
The prestige attached to hosting a GCC central bank is likely to prove more troublesome. Saudi Arabia has the bloc’s largest economy, while the UAE and Qatar can claim the most open markets.
Both projects have huge economic potential, but member states will have to exhibit a degree of common sense and swallow a lot of national pride to reap these benefits.