In the history of its relations with Syria, the EU has long sought to develop a closer relationship with Damascus, which would provide for political dialogue, mutually beneficial trade and investment relations, and cooperation on economic, social and democratic reform.
Following the violent repression of anti-government protests in Syria from mid-March 2011, the EU took a number of restrictive measures: 1) an embargo on arms and equipment that can be used for internal repression and 2) targeted sanctions (a travel ban and asset freeze) against those responsible for or associated with the repression. See also: legislation instituting these restrictive measures and Frequently Asked Questions on EU restrictive measures [24 KB] .
In addition, the Foreign Affairs Council of May 2011 announced the suspension of bilateral cooperation programmes between the EU and the Syrian government under the MEDA/ENPI instruments and to suspend all preparations for new bilateral cooperation. The EU also will not take further steps with regard to the Association Agreement that had been negotiated with Syria.
Read more on the EU's response to the repression of the protests.
The steps taken by the EU aim at helping achieve a change of the Syrian government's policy. This should lead to halting the repression without delay, implementing announced reforms, and advancing a credible, genuine and inclusive national dialogue.
EU-Syria relations are governed by a Cooperation Agreement signed in 1977. Syria is a signatory of the 1995 Barcelona Declaration and a member of the Union for the Mediterranean. Syria is also a member of the European Neighbourhood Policy, but does not yet benefit from all its instruments and incentives, pending entry into force of the Association Agreement.
Prior to the violence, priorities of our co-operation with Syria were defined in the Country Strategy Paper [143 KB] and National Indicative Programme [143 KB] . The main aim of this co-operation was to support Syria’s domestic reform process.