Technical and financial co-operation

Suspension of EU co-operation with Syria

The EU Member States, in the Council for Foreign Affairs of May 2011 , announced the suspension of cooperation programmes between the EU and the Syrian government, as follows:

  • Suspension of all ongoing bilateral programmes financed by the MEDA and ENPI instruments
  • Suspension of all preparations for new bilateral cooperation programmes

The EU continues its support to the Syrian people. Such activities focus on areas with a large influx of refugees, as well as on support to Civil Society through organizations active in various fields – ranging from culture to water and family planning.

Civil society organizations are also invited to participate to a number of regional programmes. The EU fosters multi-country higher education programmes (Tempus and Erasmus Mundus), which include vivid student and staff exchange components.

A comprehensive and chronological overview of the imposed sanctions on Syria can be found here.


The European Union is Syria's main donor and has provided more than 300 million Euros in support between 1993 and 2011. EU support to Syria is implemented by the EuropeAid directorate of the European Commission and takes its starting point in Syria's own reform plans (the Five Year Plans), as well as EU development policies and regional policies.

EU cooperation is demand-driven and results-oriented, facilitating capacity-building by providing expert and policy advice. In line with the EU-UN Aid Effectiveness Agenda, the EU also promotes synergies and coordination with other donors and UN agencies in Syria.

Bilateral co-operation
EU bilateral assistance to Syria is planned via Country Strategy Papers (CSPs), outlining strategic priority areas for cooperation over a 7-year period. For the same period, two National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) are agreed – each covering 3-4 years and providing an indicative planning of interventions within each strategic priority area of the CSP. 

The Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013 identifies three strategic priority areas for European-Syrian cooperation:
1) Support to political and administrative reform
2) Support to economic reform
3) Support to social reform

Besides the bilateral cooperation planned in the CSPs, Syria also benefits from a number of additional bilateral projects to support Iraqi and Palestinian Refugees, as well as projects for the Syrian civil society and for cultural events.

Regional co-operation

Regional programmes complement bilateral programmes in areas where they provides specific added value. This is particularly the case when:

  • There is a transnational dimension involving various partner countries (example: promotion of infrastructure interconnections);
  • A number of countries share the same objective, and thus economies of scale can be made by joint activities (training, technical   assistance, seminars on policy approaches);
  • Regional integration, especially south-south integration, is to be promoted.

Beyond generating value-added through economies of scale and scope, regional co-operation in the Mediterranean provides an efficient forum for exchanging information, policy experiences and good practices. Almost 100 ME are allocated to the Southern Mediterranean countries on a yearly basis through regional cooperation.

European Investment Bank and Member States co-operation
The EU works in close cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB), which finances infrastructure projects to improve the business climate and encourage private sector initiatives. EIB has provided close to € 1.4 billion in loans since the start of its activities in Syria in 1978, with a significant increase since the establishment of FEMIP in 2002. The projects financed cover the key sectors of energy, transport, telecommunications, industry, water/ sanitation, environment, health and support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As a result of EU sanctions, since May 2011 no new financing operation has been pursued by the Bank and since November 2011 all ongoing disbursements and technical assistance services have currently been suspended.

EU Cooperation implemented by EuropeAid is complemented by that of European Member States, who cover a wide range of fields through their direct bilateral cooperation, cultural institutes and other development organisations.


EU Cooperation with Syria

1) Support to political and administrative reform 
     - Public Administrative Reform, including Public Finance Management
     - Decentralisation & Local Development
     - Justice & Security
     - Gender Equality

 2) Support to economic reform
      - Economic Transition
      - Infrastructure
      - Energy
      - Environment and Sustainable Development

3) Support to social reform
     - Health 
     - Education
     - Vocational Education & Training (VET)
     - Social Protection

4) Others
    - Civil Society
    - Refugees
    - Culture