The Quartet’s first session was held in Madrid in April 2002 in response to the realisation that the complex, ongoing Middle East conflict could only be resolved through coordinated international pressure on Israel and the Palestinians. For that reason, the Quartet agreed in Madrid to closely coordinate their activities in the Middle East.
In 2003, the Quartet proposed the "road map", a detailed timetable for peace intended to lead to a two-state solution with an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state co‑existing alongside Israel.
On 19 November 2003, the United Nations Security Council officially endorsed this road map with Resolution 1515. The text of the document is based on preparatory work done by the EU in the context of its Common Foreign and Security Policy, in which Germany was instrumental.
After several years during which the Middle East Quartet had not played a central role, Germany made committed efforts to revive the Quartet during the country’s Presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2007. The Quartet was successfully reinstated as an important player in efforts to find a sustainable and equitable Middle East peace agreement.
The Middle East Quartet held its first meeting with Arab and other interested states on 30 September 2015, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly. On 1 July 2016, it presented the report it had announced that February identifying the main obstacles on the road to a two-state solution. The report sees the Quartet calling on the conflict parties to underpin their declared commitment to a two-state solution by undertaking concrete measures. Together with the EU, Germany is pushing for the recommendations to be implemented in order to create the necessary conditions for a negotiated two-state solution.
Quartet meetings are convened when the need arises, attended either by the Middle East experts ("envoys") or by the foreign ministers ("principals"). The United Nations is represented by Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon, the European Union by its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was the Quartet’s Special Envoy from June 2007 to June 2015. No successor to the post has yet been lined up.