Technical and financial co-operation

Strategic objectives for cooperation

Under Saddam Hussein’s almost 30-year regime, the EU had no political or contractual relations with Iraq and its role was limited to implementing United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions. During the nineties the EU was however an important actor in the humanitarian field. From 1992 onwards, the European Community (EC) was the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to Iraq after the United Nations (UN). Since 2003, the European Commission remains the third largest development partner to Iraq after the US and Japan.

The first-ever Joint Strategy Paper and Multiannual Indicative Programme for Iraq for the period of 2011-2013 which is currently being prepared, is a next step in EU-Iraq relations. With a view to engage in a multi-annual assistance planning process, this Country Strategy Paper for Iraq 2011-2013 responds to a request by the European Council for a strategy for the EU’s relations with Iraq and contributes to the EU Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and Middle East. The Strategy reflects the Iraqi government’s policies for international development cooperation.

When did European Commission assistance start?

Humanitarian support was provided from 1992 onwards and the European Commission was the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to Iraq after the UN. Between 1992 and the start of the war, ECHO provided around €157 million for relief activities. In 2003, ECHO responded to the crisis in Iraq by providing €100 million. In parallel in 2003, the European Commission started to provide reconstruction assistance as the humanitarian needs decreased.

European Commission at the Madrid donor conference in October 2003

The European Commission was active together with other donors in the preparations for the Madrid conference, where the multilateral effort to assist Iraq's reconstruction was launched. At the conference itself, the European Commission pledged a total contribution of €200 million for 2003/2004, while the European Union as a whole, including the accession countries, pledged over €1.25 billion.

The European Commission was also one of the promoters of the establishment of a multi-donor instrument for channelling international support to the reconstruction process in Iraq. Today the European Commission is one of 25 members of the donor committee of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq – IRFFI, which is implemented by the United Nations and the World Bank.