Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh

Iraq and the EU

10/05/2016 - 14:16
EU relations with Country

Relations between Iraq and the EU are based on two agreements covering cooperation and assistance. Iraq is an important partner for the EU because of its geopolitical position in the Middle East and its proximity to the EU.

Foreword

Strengthening Iraq Through EU Cooperation

 

Iraq has posed problems for regional security and stability for decades. The protagonist of multiple regional wars and in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) proliferation, it has provided a model of authoritarian and repressive rule. The country’s reputation remains tainted with the memory of violence and traumatic events perpetrated as part of the savage Da'esh campaign against minorities and those who did not accept its tyrannical rule.


Despite the many challenges which the country has had to confront since 2003 (including internal strife, ineffective governance and widespread corruption), Iraqi society has shown extraordinary resilience. Since 2014, successive Iraqi governments have worked towards state building, national reconciliation and ambitious political and economic reforms. The peaceful transfer of power following elections (however imperfect the elections themselves) and the rich pluralism and independent media are unique to the region. They offer a prime example of how democracy can thrive in the Middle East. Political coalitions exist across sectarian and ethnic divides, demonstrating the rich diversity of Iraqi society and how its multiple identities can coexist and respect each other. The country has also become a mediator between conflicting regional ambitions, and an advocate of regional cooperation based on shared interests.


Since 2003, the European Union has invested over EUR 1 billion in assistance to Iraq, becoming one of the main international donors. Da’esh’s takeover of one third of the country devastated productive infrastructure, and the resulting unprecedented humanitarian crisis has prompted a renewed E.U. contribution to the country since 2014.  The EU High Representative and Vice President (HRVP), Ms Federica Mogherini, pledged EUR 400 million in new grants to support Iraq’s reconstruction and economic reforms. If the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) was one of the unsung heroes of the humanitarian effort, DG DEVCO (the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development) has taken over, leading the cooperation program in Iraq for state-building and economic reforms, gender equality, women and youth empowerment, livelihoods/job creation, and private-sector development. By the end of 2019, all of these commitments, as well as additional funds for humanitarian assistance and security sector reforms and the Instruments contributing to Peace and Stability (IcSP), will have been distributed, bringing EU contribution close to EUR 500 million in the new humanitarian-stabilisation-development nexus.


The European Union has an interest in the success of Iraq’s process of political and economic reforms due to concerns surrounding control of illegal migration flows, and security threats posed by Da’esh and its affiliates in Europe.  Besides that, Iraq could be a rare success story in the Middle East that the European Union can be associated with: a democratic system, with peaceful transfers of power, and a vibrant and pluralistic political life. There are numerous challenges and evident risks ahead for Iraq, both internal and external, that the current government will find difficult to manage. The European Union will play a role in supporting Iraq’s balancing act, and in helping to preserve an internal equilibrium and regional stability. The recently ratified Iraq Strategy, along with the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, offer a roadmap for developing a solid framework of cooperation. This will contribute decisively to Iraq's political, social and economic development. The country has a unique opportunity to become the cornerstone of a new regional security architecture, and a model for the region. To achieve this will require difficult decisions to be made in order to better governance and services for Iraqi citizens, as well as create a favourable private sector environment. This will create wealth and job opportunities that will be the engine of reconstruction and economic development in Iraq.


The EU has made a commitment to build a partnership for a better future for the peoples of Iraq and Europe.

Ambassador Martin Huth

Head of the EU Delegation to Iraq

 

 

The EU and Iraq

 

Iraq has suffered decades of violence and armed conflict, but the successful campaign to defeat Da'esh and the resulting efforts towards political and economic reform have given hope for a better future in the country. Over the past two years, Iraq has overcome some critical challenges (including the referendum of independence in the KRI, contested general elections, protests in the southern provinces and a lingering insurgency by the remnants of ISIS). The appointment of a new President and Prime Minister in the autumn of 2018, however, allowed for a peaceful transfer of power and the formation of a government, which renewed its commitment to economic and political reforms.
The EU has stood by Iraq as a reliable partner, committed to the stability and reconstruction of the country and surrounding region. As part of these efforts, they have promoted human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The EU has a long history of cooperation with Iraq, in work ranging from political and security reforms to education, energy and migration efforts. The ratification of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in August 2018 has offered a roadmap upon which to build a long-term relationship, with cooperation in trade, transportation, energy, environment, research and education, among many other areas.

 


The EU Delegation to Iraq


The Delegation represents the European Union in Iraq and, as a diplomatic mission, works closely with all EU Member State Embassies that are represented in Baghdad (as well as their missions in Erbil, Kurdistan Region). It ensures the fulfilment of tasks set by the EU Presidency, both in Baghdad and Erbil. The Delegation is the permanent and principal communicator of the EU vis-à-vis local authorities, the international community and all other stakeholders for all matters related to EU external action. Acting in close cooperation with all EU Member State diplomatic missions, the Delegation strives to ensure the unity, consistency and effectiveness of EU external action in Iraq. It ensures the follow-up of bilateral relations in the political, economic, trade, energy and development areas. In the field of public diplomacy, the Delegation plays a crucial role in communicating EU values, policies and success stories to host country stakeholders, and is committed to enhancing the EU's visibility in Iraq through cultural diplomacy initiatives.  

 

 

The EU is a long-term partner of Iraq, cooperating with the country in the fields of humanitarian aid, stabilisation, security and political reform. In response to the challenges the country is facing following the territorial defeat of Da'esh, the EU adopted a new strategy for Iraq on 22 January 2018. This includes ongoing humanitarian, stabilisation, early recovery, reform and reconciliation efforts. The strategy demonstrates the EU's continued commitment to supporting the Iraqi people and their government as they seek to tackle these challenges. It focusses on the following strategic objectives:

•    Preserving the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq as well as its ethnic and religious diversity;
•    Strengthening the Iraqi political system by supporting Iraqi efforts to establish a balanced, inclusive, accountable, and democratic system of government;
•    Supporting the Iraqi authorities in delivering humanitarian aid, both as emergency assistance and as early recovery;
•    Supporting the Iraqi authorities in stabilising the country, so that development and reconstruction assistance can be delivered effectively;
•    Promoting sustainable, knowledge-based and inclusive economic growth and job creation;
•    Promoting an effective and independent justice system, which ensures accountability;
•    Establishing a formal migration dialogue with Iraq;
•    Supporting and fostering Iraq’s good relations with all its neighbours.

The EU fully and strongly supports Iraq's unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and is dedicated to helping Iraq become a safe, stable and peaceful country that can serve as a mediator and connect the region. Years of insecurity and conflict have placed enormous stress on the population and system of governance, and alleviating these hardships is a key step in pursuing long-term stabilisation of the country. The EU, understanding the need for more efficient security systems, has deployed EUAM (the European Union Advisory Mission) in support of Iraqi security sector reform, aiming to increase the capability of Iraq and promote a safe and secure environment for its population.

Across all levels of engagement, the EU is dedicated to promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law as fundamental elements for building a just, inclusive and stable society in Iraq. In its interactions with Iraqi authorities (and civil society and international partners), the EU emphasises the importance of tangible progress on political reforms, institutional transparency and the fight against corruption. These would foster a more investment friendly environment, encouraging economic growth. Likewise, these actions are a prerequisite for mobilising political support and funding that Iraq received at the Kuwait reconstruction conference and onwards.

The EU is a long-term, reliable partner of Iraq, and will continue to invest in promoting the country's political and economic progress. In this sense, the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which came into force in 2018, provides a particularly valuable mechanism for enhancing mutual relations and engaging both parties in areas of mutual interest.

Within the framework of the EU's Foreign Policy Instrument (FPI), the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) helps to implement the EU's foreign policy priorities in Iraq. This is achieved through a series of specific initiatives, each with a particular focus on wider reconciliation and stabilisation. At present, these initiatives include;
•    a project that develops policies, legal framework and procedures which enable Iraqi institutions to credibly respond to concerns regarding missing persons by conducting investigations into mass and clandestine graves, in accordance with international norms;
•    a project which contributes to the stabilisation of Iraq by addressing the multiple factors that might cause violence at the community level, including the return of youth that joined armed groups in the fight against Da'esh;
•    a project which aims at fostering bilateral dialogue between Iraq and its neighbouring countries - namely Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait and Jordan.

Towards sustainable peace: dialogue for the stabilisation of Iraq

Following the defeat of Da'esh, Iraq is transitioning towards peace, and thus necessitates national and local reconciliation. The conflict had a devastating effect on the country, with the displacement of over five million people, the destruction of homes and infrastructure and a return of sectarian divisions. While virtually any community in Iraq is somewhat affected by these dynamics, there are reasons why specific locations are more likely to face rising tensions and violence. As a consequence of the conflict, in many communities traditional social ties between different groups have been undermined, leaving space for mistrust and reliance on sectarian affiliations for material, emotional and symbolic support.

To help address this concern, the EU has partnered with the HD (the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue) on a project fostering the resolution of grievances between local actors and the Iraqi Government, and among local leaders themselves, with the aim of contributing to a broader reconciliation initiative in Iraq. The project concentrates on the especially fragile and restive governorates, such as Basra, Ninawa, Anbar or Salahedin. In Basra, HD introduced the project to local officials, helped identify projects that needed support and selected further projects to recommend to the EU, linking the EU Delegation to the actual needs identified by the people in Basra. In Ninawa, the project has laid the foundations for dialogue between the Yazidis and Sunni tribes, and works to settle broader political issues as they relate to Sinjar. The project also tries to tackle the very delicate issue of the so-called "Da'esh families", and for this the project's implementing partner HD has secured approval from the Iraqi government, security forces, tribal leaders and local officials and dignitaries.

 

 

EU Advisory Mission (EUAM)

 

In response to a request from the Iraqi authorities for support in reforming the civilian security sector in line with the European Council conclusions on Iraq of 19 June 2017, the EU agreed on 17 July 2017 to deploy a civilian common-security-and-defence-policy (CSDP) mission to Baghdad. The EU Assistance Mission (EUAM) was officially launched on 16 October 2017 and deployed in November 2017. The mandate of EUAM has subsequently been extended for two more years and its staff has nearly doubled, with a total budget amounting to EUR 78.8 million until 2020. The mission focuses on assisting the Iraqi authorities in the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Iraqi Security Strategy. EU experts are providing advice and assistance in priority work areas, responding to the needs of the relevant authorities.


The EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) is the first contractual relation between the two countries. As such, it highlights the long-term engagement of the EU in creating a legal framework for cooperation with Iraq on areas of mutual interest. The objectives of this partnership (between the EU, EU Member States and Iraq) are threefold; to provide an appropriate framework for political dialogue between parties, allowing the development of political relations; to promote trade, investment and harmonious economic relations between the parties (fostering sustainable economic development); to provide a basis for legislative, economic, social, financial and cultural cooperation.

The EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was signed on 11 May 2012. While its trade reforms entered into force provisionally on 1 August 2012, the full agreement was implemented in August 2018 upon completion of the ratification process by the EU, its Member States and the Iraqi Government on 16 August 2018.

The PCA now provides mechanisms which consolidate cooperation between the EU and Iraq in areas of mutual interest. At the core of the PCA is regular, high-level political dialogue that focuses on peace, foreign and security policy, national dialogue and reconciliation, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, good governance and regional stability and integration. In March 2019, the first EU-Iraq Migration Dialogue took place in Baghdad. This is to be followed by regular meetings of the specific PCA sub-committees on democracy and human rights, as well as on trade, energy and related policies.

 


The KUWAIT Conference

 

The Iraq Reconstruction and Development Conference took place in Kuwait from 12 to 14 February 2018. As the first of its kind, and held during a crucial period in the history of the country (following the territorial defeat of Da'esh in 2017), the Conference represented a watershed for the process of political and economic reforms which address the root causes of conflict. This defined the nature of a new social contract in Iraq, firmly anchoring the social and human dimension of development at the centre of attention.

The Kuwait Conference aimed at mobilising renewed international support for Iraq’s reconstruction and development needs, reaffirming national and international commitment to supporting the country. This is particularly important in areas that have been liberated from Da'esh control, and in paving the way for a common agenda for the Iraqi Government and the international community to guide these reconstruction and development efforts.

Overall, the Kuwait Conference can be considered a diplomatic success for Prime Minister Abadi, with 74 countries represented. The United Nations (UN) Secretary General, World Bank (WB) President and EU HR/VP (High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) co-chaired the closing ceremony, along with the emir of Kuwait and the Iraqi Prime Minister. Messages of support for Iraq and its Government, appreciation for the effort in the fight against Da'esh and solidarity with the Iraqi people were unanimous. The upbeat tone of the participants is well illustrated by the EU's HR/VP, Mogherini's, words: "There is hope in today's Iraq. Hope that Iraq's best days are ahead of us. Hope that reconstruction can deliver on the Iraqi people's aspirations".

An assessment jointly conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and the World Bank estimates the overall damage of the Da’esh conflict at USD 45.7 billion, and puts forward more than USD 88 billion in short and medium-term reconstruction needs. The conference succeeded in mobilising pledges for the total amount of USD 30 billion in support of Iraq's reconstruction. As part of this overall sum, the EU pledged EUR 400 million in grants for assisting the country in building its post-Da'esh future, while the remaining USD 29.6 consists of loans and sovereign guarantees. Despite the obvious gap between needs and pledges, the amount nonetheless exceeded expectations, and highlights the confidence in and support for the Government's reform agenda, presented at the Conference in the form of the Vision 2030.

The EU played a leading role in the Conference, not only in its role as co-chair but also in shaping narratives and driving humanitarian-stabilisation-reconstruction efforts. This was greatly appreciated by the Iraqi government. The EU High Representative (Ms Federica Mogherini), the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management (Mr Christos Stylianides) and the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development (Neven Mimica) took an active role throughout the Conference, high level meeting, sessions and bilateral meetings.

 

Conflict and instability have ravaged Iraq for decades, and the latest war between the Islamic State group and the Iraqi government has triggered a major humanitarian crisis. Intense conflict between 2014 and 2017 has forced as many as 5.8 million people from their homes across Iraq (four million have since been able to return) and left more than 6.6 million in need, including approximately 600 000 displaced people in camps and close to 250 000 refugees from Syria. As a result of the conflict, the number of people deprived of their freedom has risen dramatically.

As of 2018, Iraq entered a new phase of international engagement, with an increased focus on early recovery and development. The needs of citizens had also changed; civilians who remain in camps now need to be cared for, and camp conditions need to be brought up to basic minimum standards. Outside the camps, in severely affected but neglected areas, there is a continuing need for provision of basic health, education, water and sanitation services. Both inside and outside camps, many people still suffer from the effects of the war, requiring physical rehabilitation, including prosthetics, and other kinds of assistance. Many people and communities thought to have been associated with the Islamic State group's insurrection face involuntary movements (either forced or obstructed returns to their areas of origin), protracted displacement in camps and, in some cases, an alarming lack of access to basic services. More broadly, the Iraqi economy remains disrupted, with widespread poverty as a result. Humanitarian relief agencies in Iraq assisted 3.4 million people in 2018, and plan to assist nearly 2 million of the most acutely affected during 2019.

The European Union is a leading donor to the Iraq humanitarian response, supporting those in greatest need in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence. Through its humanitarian partners, the EU continues to deliver lifesaving assistance, such as protection programmes, emergency healthcare, basic shelter, food, safe water, sanitation and hygiene, for those in the greatest need. This includes displaced people unable to (or prevented from) returning to their areas of origin. The EU pays particular attention to child protection and education in emergencies, offering learning spaces and schools in and out of the camps for the over 3 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) throughout the country. The EU also supports the re-introduction of basic public services, including healthcare, education, and water supply, in war-affected areas such as Mosul, western Anbar, and Hawija. They also fund the provision of legal assistance to families in order to help them obtain essential identification papers lost during the conflict between the government and the Islamic State group. Since 2017, EU humanitarian assistance has expanded to include detention centres, where the detention of children is of particular concern (especially when held in pre-trial detention, adult facilities or informal detention facilities).

EUR 450 million has been provided in humanitarian aid to displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees inside Iraq since 2014. For 2019, the European Commission has made an initial commitment of EUR 30 million in humanitarian funding, which brings EU humanitarian support in 2018 and 2019 to a total of EUR 70 million.

 

Development assistance


The EU's development assistance in Iraq since 2003 (largely channelled through the Development Cooperation Instrument) amounts to more than EUR 1 billion and covers a wide array of sectors. There is, however, a pronounced focus on stabilisation and basic-service provision in liberated areas following the Da’esh conflict (2014 - 2017).
Today (following the defeat of Da'esh at the end of 2017), the democratic elections of May 2018 and the gradually advancing stabilisation in many affected areas of Iraq indicate that it is on the cusp of entering into a renewed phase of state building and reconstruction, redrawing political and social dynamics. While an upper-middle income country, persisting development challenges in the country include a lack of adequate public services, limited governance, pervasive corruption, insufficient financial and human resources, environmental degradation and, most worryingly, the absence of any social contract between the people and the state. In this fragile context, the continuing and massive displacement of population, limited livelihood opportunities, strong disparity in wealth distribution and growing demographic bulge continue to add pressure to an already saturated job market, fuelling sentiments of inequality and exclusion.

Within the parameters of the EU Strategy for Iraq and the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Arrangement (PCA), the key strategic interests of the EU in Iraq are to preserve security and stability (including at regional level) and to rebuild the social contract between citizens and institutions. Ensuring sustained improvements in governance, including of Iraq’s natural resources, fostering fair and sustainable employment opportunities and building a solid human capital are all areas of strategic relevance in achieving these goals.

The general premise of EU development support is to help Iraq better use its own resources; this is accomplished through capacity building activities in areas of good governance, emphasis on socio‐economic recovery through education, and strengthening of institutional capacity in governmental entities. EU development efforts build on reinforced strategic policy dialogue and the transfer of knowledge, while concentrating assistance in support of human and social aspects of reconstruction. This is helping Iraq to consolidate stabilisation gains and kick-start reconstruction efforts and recovery.
The currently active portfolio of EU development programmes amounts to EUR 323 million and is implemented with a wide array of partners in the areas of human rights, civil society and media, local governance, public finance management, energy sector reform, education and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), stabilisation and demining, and job creation.

Examples of concrete interventions are outlined in this brochure, but interested readers are invited to consult the EU website for additional information and regular updates.
 

 

Examples of the impact of EU development assistance


•    4.2 million displaced persons returned home


Through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) led Funding Facility for Stabilization, to which the EU contributed a total of EUR 64 million for the provision of basic services including education, healthcare, water and electricity, facilitating the population’s return to liberated areas.


•    2,500 jobs created


Financing reconstruction efforts in urban areas, enabling skilled and unskilled workers in the old cities of Mosul and Basra to benefit from livelihood opportunities and on-the-job training. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises also benefit from the revival and diversification of socio-economic activities.


•    10,000 vulnerable families in rural areas given the chance to improve their own livelihood opportunities


Through the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the EU is enabling more than 10,000 vulnerable smallholder and small-scale families living in rural areas of Ninewa to improve their livelihoods by developing small-scale food processing and agribusiness.


•    Creating a secure environment for a safe return


Between March 2017 and January 2019, United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) clearance teams removed approximately 44,000 explosive hazards, including 750 IEDs, from roads, bridges, schools, universities, hospitals, clinics, water treatment plants and municipal buildings in Mosul city. Additionally, 1,100 suicide belts were removed, many from human remains; not included in that total, the teams also found large quantities of IED components used in their manufacture.


In addition, programmes amounting to EUR 145 million are prepared for implementation in 2019. These programmes pursue the two-fold objective of fostering improved governance and promoting sustainable, knowledge-based and inclusive economic growth in Iraq. This will be attained through measures that, on one hand, target enhanced policy making and governance through institution and capacity building in key sectors (such as public finance management, private sector development, water, agriculture and rural development, human capital development, migration and forced displacement). On the other hand, these measures will also target concrete sustainable job creation in the agriculture sector through interventions for solid human capital development (TVET), improvement of agricultural production and the creation of agri-business value chains and business opportunities.   
Concerning EU engagement in Iraq post-2020, a strategic reflection process is undertaken by EU Member States and the Iraqi Government to define the principles, objectives, areas and modalities of EU engagement.
(NB: the EU's seven-year development programming cycle spans the period 2021 to 2027, in line with the EU's multi-annual financial framework).

 


The humanitarian-development nexus


The European Council stresses the need to coordinate humanitarian and development actions in order to address the root causes of vulnerability, fragility and conflict. This is to be achieved while simultaneously meeting humanitarian needs and strengthening resilience, and calls for more collective approaches that, whilst maintaining different roles and mandates of European Union actors and respecting humanitarian principles, work towards prevention, early action, peace-building, crisis response and stabilisation.

In 2017, Iraq was identified as a pilot country for the humanitarian-stabilisation-development nexus to implement an integrated approach, designed to avoid gaps and address the complex challenges of countries in post-conflict situations where the root causes of conflict persist. As a consequence, the EU closely coordinates its humanitarian and development actors, supported by its diplomatic, political and security sector endeavours, to address the protracted crisis and fragility in Iraq and meet the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals. Ultimately, the aim is to leave no one behind. The collective expertise, analysis, advocacy and programming of these EU actors, as well as the involvement of EU Member States, allows for the delivery of a conflict-sensitive strategy. This strategy is able to tackle immediate needs (protection of civilians during and after conflict, SSR, DDR, provision of basic services and social protection in newly retaken areas and victim assistance) whilst also investing in Iraq’s long-term resilience. It will also facilitate state and institution building through identified enablers and capacity (economic diversification, energy sector, education system, social protection, rule of law and good governance). The geographical focus for these pilot interventions is centred in the liberated areas of Anbar and Ninewa (Mosul), while the areas of Basra, Thi-Qar and Misan were selected in view of their political, social and economic conditions.

Putting the NEXUS into practice: a focus on some new initiatives for Mosul and Basra
Supporting recovery and stability in Basra and Mosul through local development

 
Launched in early 2019 with an EU funding of EUR 47.5 million, this joint EU-UNDP-UNHABITAT programme pursues the overall objective of contributing to the stability and socio-economic development of Iraq by enhancing democratic governance at the local level. The programme builds upon the momentum created by the flagship Local Area Development Programme (LADP II) that concluded in mid-2018 after providing strategic planning and capacity building support to twelve governorates across Iraq.
The Basra and Ninewa (Mosul) governorate, in addition to 7 other governorates selected from all over Iraq (Anbar, Duhok, Erbil, Sulaimaniya, Salahiddin, Misan, Thi-Qar), stand to benefit over the coming four years from activities that can be grouped under the following pillars:


•    the implementation of local priority actions, derived from the Provincial Development Plans and the Sustainable Energy Action Plans, that address the top priorities of each governorate and pilot ways to translate policy into practice;


•    support to the decentralisation of powers from central to local authorities, including through the development of institutional capacities, the optimisation of revenue generation systems, peer-to-peer partnerships with EU local authorities, and the empowerment of civil society to advocate for local development causes;


•    rehabilitation of housing, schools, and public spaces, repairs to secondary infrastructure in post conflict areas, in addition to job creation, skill enhancement, and vocational training;


•    mobilisation of additional resources and improvement of donor coordination.

Reviving the spirit of Mosul and Basra through the restoration of historic urban landscapes

The Old Cities of Mosul and Basra are living symbols of the rich and diverse mosaic of identities of Iraq. Cultural diversity and heritage are an integral part of the values of the European Union, not only because they are central to the identity of a multi-cultural and pluralistic state like Iraq, but also because of their great potential for boosting the economy and fostering social cohesion.

In 2019, the European Union has contributed EUR 20 million to the Revive the Spirit of Mosul and Basra flagship initiative, launched by UNESCO in February 2019. The program promotes social cohesion and reconciliation in Iraq through the restoration and reconstruction of the historic urban landscapes of Mosul, and some areas of the city of Basra. Urban reconstruction activities are complemented with job creation and skills development, responding to a severe lack in work opportunities, especially among young people, internally displaced persons and returnees. Recognised training providers, combined with on-the-job training for semi-skilled and unskilled youth labourers, provide some 1,500 young people with training. The initiative is implemented by civil society and local communities in cooperation with the Iraqi national and local authorities (notably the Ministry of Culture), religious endowment offices and the Governorates of Ninewa and Basra. In particular, youth and women’s groups are involved in consultations to define the modalities and priorities of project implementation.

 

Uplifting Iraq's former breadbasket of Ninewa

The impact of the recent conflict on what was the country's breadbasket – the plains of Ninewa west of Mosul - has been devastating on water and agricultural infrastructure, disrupting value chains and resulting in the widespread loss of personal assets, crop and livestock production, and food supplies. Since the defeat of Da’esh, many people have returned to Ninewa, however some areas still lack basic services and job opportunities for both returnees and those who remained.

In June 2018, the EU launched a EUR 15 million project with the FAO to support farming families in northern Iraq’s Ninewa governorate. This project directly benefits almost 10,000 vulnerable farming families, helping them to recover agricultural livelihoods, as well as providing flow-on benefits for local service providers and labourers. Vulnerable smallholder farmers are offered support in resuming vegetable production, introducing efficient irrigation water use and management, encouraging agri-food processing, improving small-scale dairy processing and marketing, and boosting animal fodder production and conservation. Women are assisted in home-based vegetable and dairy production and processing. Unemployed, young agriculture graduates are encouraged to participate in training that might gain them employment as agri-food processors, farmer field school and farmer business school facilitators, community animal health workers, market information system operators, and food security and nutrition data collectors and analysts. The project also contributes to restoring vital government infrastructure and support services to the agriculture sector that have been destroyed, damaged or looted.

(NB: In addition to the above mentioned flagship initiatives in the Governorates of Basra and Ninewa (Mosul), the EU implements several other projects that benefit these areas in the fields of education, political dialogue, governance and energy reform. The EU is considering further deepening its engagement in these two Governorates, as they provide clear examples of the double challenges that Iraq faces in terms of recovery and development).

 

 

EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (Madad Fund)


The conflict in Syria has triggered the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Refugees from Syria are the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation, with over 5.6 million having fled to neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq. The EU is the leading donor in the international response to the Syrian crisis, with more than EUR 10.8 billion collectively mobilised in aid from the EU and Member States since 2011. The EU Madad Fund pools an increasing share of the EU's aid to the region into one single and flexible instrument. The Fund primarily addresses educational, economic and social needs of Syrian refugees, while also supporting overstretched local communities and their administrations. The Trust Fund is a key instrument for the delivery of the EU's pledges, made at the London conference on Syria in 2016 and the Brussels conferences on the Future of Syria and the Region in April 2017 and 2018 and March 2019.

In the framework of the Madad Fund, the EU has contributed more than EUR 107.5 million to projects benefitting the Iraq population. The Trust Fund supports job creation for IDPs, refugees and host communities, as well as decontamination and explosive hazard management, rehabilitation of selected irrigation infrastructures, access to higher education, increased health authority resilience and increased capacity of local administration in coping with the crisis.

https://ec.europa.eu/trustfund-syria-region

 

 

Stabilisation of the liberated areas


Stabilisation activities in Iraq facilitate the return of displaced Iraqis, lay the groundwork for reconstruction and recovery, and safeguard against the resurgence of violence and extremism.
The EU's support to stabilisation effort was, among others, provided through the UNDP Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), with a total EU contribution of EUR 64 million. The FFS' efforts are concentrated in the Governorates of Ninewa, Anbar, Salahiddin, Diyala and Kirkuk, and range from reconnecting communities to the electricity grid, rehabilitating water and sewage systems, rebuilding roads and bridges and providing local people with short-term employment to removing rubble and helping revitalise neighbourhoods. This investment in critical services sets the stage for recovery and resilience work in Iraq, as well as for longer-term reconstruction and development activities.
While to date 1.31 million people are beneficiaries of EU-funded projects within the framework of the UNDP FFS, further key achievements include:   

- Education: 2,320 students are benefiting from rehabilitated schools and universities as part of the 18 EU-funded projects rehabilitating educational insti¬tutions across two governorates;


•    Electricity: 943,027 people are benefiting from restored access  to electricity; this includes 194,157 people in the remote communities of western Anbar and 603,770 people in Mosul, as part of 19 EU-funded electricity pro¬jects across three governorates;


•    Health: 123,000 people, including 65,900 women, have access to ameliorated healthcare facilities as part of seven EU-funded health sec¬tor projects across Ninewa;


•    Housing: 355 houses rehabilitated, enabling 2,250 peo¬ple to come home with dignity as part the EU-funded housing sector project in the Ninewa Plains town of Bartella;

- People:

•   1,064 people, including 97 women, provided a livelihood opportunity through cash for work programmes as part of six EU-funded cash for work projects in three Iraqi governorates;

•    45,100 people benefit from enhanced capacity of their local municipality and through the rehabilitation of the public realm in their city as part of the six EU-funded municipality sector projects in Ninewa and Kirkuk;


•    211,650 people in Anbar and Ninewa are benefitting from improved connectively due to the rehabilitation of four bridges as part of four EU-funded road and bridge sector projects in both Anbar and Ninewa governorates;

- Water: 245,000 people benefit from the enhanced capacity of the water directorates in Anah, Rawa, Qaim and West Mosul. These aim to improve water management in these cities and towns as part of four EU-funded water sector projects in Anbar and Ninewa.

Decontamination and demining makes a safe return to towns and villages in Iraq possible. EU-funded projects for decontamination and explosive hazard management reduce the risk of physical injury or death for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), returning populations and host communities by removing and destroying improvised mines, booby traps and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and raising awareness of the dangers posed by ERW amongst vulnerable groups. Decontamination is also a pre-requisite for any further development activities in these areas.
A specific programme with the Mines Advisory Group and Handicap International provides integrated clearance activities and tailored risk education sessions in areas retaken from Da'esh in Ninewa, Kirkuk, and Duhok Governorates. Another programme. Its central aim is to strengthen the Government’s strategic coordination mechanisms to ensure a common, prioritised and coordinated approach to the clearance of explosive hazards. The EU also chairs the Global Coalition's sub-working group on Explosive Hazard Management (EHM).

 

 

Human rights: dignity for all


The European Union is committed to upholding and safeguarding human rights – civil, political, economic, social or cultural – both at home and globally. Its stance draws on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, as well as the EU’s own Charter of Fundamental Rights.

For the EU, respect for human rights, along with the rule of law, is a key ingredient in Iraq’s transition towards becoming a functioning and sustainable democracy. The Union’s commitment to human rights in Iraq is reflected in its many initiatives, including its extensive backing of Iraqi human rights defenders in their efforts to protect fundamental freedoms. Furthermore, the Delegation of the European Union to Iraq chairs the Human Rights Working Group, where issues related to human rights can be discussed and courses of action agreed on. In addition, the Delegation is in constant contact and dialogue with the Iraqi authorities and civil society.

The EU's continued commitment to supporting civil society and defending human rights encompasses a wide range of projects, focussing, among others, on political and minority rights, such as those of vulnerable groups including women and the LGBT community. The aim of these efforts is to develop the capacities of local organisations and support a structured dialogue with local authorities. The projects supported by the EU in this important field include:

•    Enhancing Education, Developing Community, and Promoting Visibility to Effect Gender Equity in Iraq and the Greater Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region – aimed at giving leverage to education about gender in such a way that has a direct, meaningful and practical impact on both general and higher education systems, among policy decision makers, and ultimately in the fabric of society in Iraq and the greater MENA region. This project is implemented by the Centre for Gender and Development Studies of the American University in Sulaimaniya.

 

•    Protecting Iraqi Human Rights Defenders: Securing a Movement for Human Rights - implemented by the Iraqi Al-Amal Association to promote human rights in Iraq by supporting the capacity development and protection of human rights defenders and the promotion of human rights based research and policies.

 

•    Mesopotamian youth for democratic governance, social cohesion and reconciliation in Iraq - promoting democratic governance and social cohesion in Iraq by improving coordination and empowering direct action of youth within local civil society organisations, to advance peacebuilding.

 

•    The Protection of  Women and Girls from Human Trafficking, Sexual Exploitation, and Gender Based Violence in Iraq - implemented by Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) for the purpose of establishing a coherent strategy and program for the protection of women and girls, and assisting victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence.

 


A FOCUS ON YOUTH


After enduring a series of military conflicts since the 1980s, as well as sectarian division and the emergence of Da'esh, Iraq is attempting to rebuild itself with the hope that young boys and girls, who represent the future of the country, will see a better tomorrow. Iraq has one of the youngest populations in the world; nearly 50% of Iraqis are younger than 19 years, and 60% are below 25 years of age. Low levels of human capital constrain young Iraqis from engaging in productive activities, while social conventions can often restrain them from engaging in dialogue.

Promoting interfaith dialogue among the youth: TAHAWER (‘dialogue’)
Tahawer (which means ‘dialogue’ in Arabic) seeks to build the confidence of young people, through training and skills development, to have respectful, self-aware and tolerant debates on challenging topics. The British Council implements this three-year long project, which contributes to social cohesion and challenges stereotypes in Iraq, notably in the six locations of  Baghdad, Basra, Duhok, Fallujah, Kirkuk, Mosul, Najaf, Ramadi and Tikrit. Tahawer encapsulates the essence of Iraq: a mosaic of cultures, traditions and beliefs interwoven into a fascinating social fabric.


Juvenile justice reform: the road to a better future in Iraq
The Iraqi youth remains one of the most vulnerable demographics in the country. They are often subject to domestic violence and unfair legal proceedings, as the legal system largely discriminates against them. This places young people at a disadvantage and could lead to a lost generation. Human rights advocates say that a chain of malfunctions in the justice system has set the alarm bill ringing over the gravity of their ill treatment and its impact on the wellbeing of a large portion of the Iraqi population.

In partnership with the EU, Heartland Alliance International (HAI) implemented a 24 month project to improve the national juvenile justice legal aid scheme in Iraq. The programme enhanced access to justice for vulnerable groups, including children and adolescents in conflict with the law. It also;


•    contributed to developing policies, procedures and guidelines on alternatives to prosecution and detention;


•    improved the capacity of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers and social workers;


•    developed institutional policies and procedures to prevent abuse and neglect;


•    developed and disseminated child-friendly ‘Know your Rights’ materials for children and parents;


•    improved access and quality of legal representation by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private lawyers;


•    provided technical assistance in order to review and improve the new child law and advocate for its adoption.


“The programme is extremely helpful in creating a culture of dealing with juveniles in a special manner. In Iraq, we lack the understanding that juvenile cases should be treated differently. The rules and regulations pay little attention to the fact that juveniles should be treated differently to adults. A programme like this is instrumental in building the capacity of legal and law enforcement personnel and enabling them to treat juvenile justice in accordance with international standards. The entire process from arrest and investigation to interrogation and sentencing has benefitted from such programmes.”
Judge Latif Mustafa Amin, Former Head of the Juvenile Court in Sulaimaniya

 

 

The palm tree project


A palm tree plantation in the Baghdad suburb of Suleikh has been transformed into a hive of activity, buzzing with workers collecting, packaging and processing dates for the local markets. The project’s story has become an example of success for young Iraqis seeking to carve out their own future in the midst of despair and poverty.

‘When I enter the farm and see the workers trimming and picking the date crops, I feel that I am contributing to rebuilding this country, the environment, the economy and the people who are working. This means a great deal to us,’ says Ahmed al Jawadi, founding member of Ekfal Nakhla, an innovative project funded by the EU through the UNDP-run Innovation for Development Initiative.
The project is based on insuring palm trees for one year. Services include cleaning, vaccination, trimming, crop cutting and anything else that the palm trees need, in exchange for a percentage of the dates and fronds that are grown. Up to 40 jobs have been created, as the project’s founders aim to invest in 1 000 trees in 2019 and produce 35 tonnes of dates for the local market.
Iraq once produced three-quarters of the world’s dates, but nowadays it is responsible for just 5 % of the global supply. This is a result of decades of conflict and a shift in focus towards oil. Farmers now hope that the product could shape the future of the country.

‘With this kind of project, we can produce dates, support the Iraqi market, export produce and make Iraq the leader in date production once again,’ says Labeeb Kashef, a founding partner of the project.

Youth taking the initiative
Jawadi believes that dealing with the problem directly is the only way to solve unemployment in Iraq, urging fellow Iraqis to take the initiative to find jobs for themselves. ‘Instead of looking for someone to employ me in a company, I found a job for myself. Then, more and more people started working with us,’ says Jawadi. The project’s founders received a USD 100 000 interest-free loan following a training programme, organised by the UNDP. ‘Iraq is the land of opportunities. It is a country where you can produce something and earn an income for yourself. You do not have to emigrate and search for work elsewhere,’ says Kashef. ‘If it were not for the Innovation for Development Programme and the help of the EU, it would have taken us years to reach our objectives,’ he adds.

New ideas, better future
Ekfal Nakhla is one of dozens of youth-led initiatives established thanks to the EU-funded job creation scheme, which seeks to build capacity among young Iraqis and tackle the problems of unemployment and poverty. A total of 24 projects reached the final round of funding, including those involving palm production, printing, media, youth talent, and treatment devices for children with jaundice, amongst other things.

 


Water: a source of life and the basis for agriculture

 

Like much of the Middle East, Iraq is undergoing a water crisis. As water supplies stagnate or fall due to climate change and upstream irrigation, demand is increasing rapidly, driven by population growth, urbanisation and economic recovery. With agriculture already swallowing 90% of available supplies, efforts to expand farming are leading to even more stress on water resources. Only around half of the Iraqi population enjoys access to safe water and sanitation, according to two surveys conducted in 2004 and 2006. The reasons for this are complex, and include protracted wars and conflict, international sanctions and under-investment. The Iraqi government’s efforts have revolved mainly around repairing, restoring and rehabilitating infrastructure. The challenge for Iraq rests not only in broadening access to drinking water, but also in simply ensuring an adequate supply of the finite resource.

With surface water at such a premium, the answer may lie beneath. With the mighty Euphrates and Tigris rivers passing through and converging in Iraq, their aquifers are replenished to the tune of 620 million cubic metres annually, dwarfing the 45 billion cubic metres Iraq currently consumes. Exploiting these groundwater resources more effectively, however, requires more reliable data to be gathered and detailed analysis to be conducted.

To identify groundwater potential, the EU financed a major initiative to conduct the second phase of an ‘Advanced Survey of Hydrogeological Resources in Iraq’ (ASHRI-2). Managed by UNESCO in coordination with the relevant Iraqi ministries, the project aimed to enhance Iraq’s national capacities in the exploration and integrated management of subterranean water resources. It provided a real-world, solid, and scientific base for a comprehensive management system for underwater resources in Iraq.

With upstream irrigation, agricultural (and other) pollution, as well as poor wastewater treatment, the Ministry of Health reports that only 70% of Iraq’s water supply complies with minimum standards. Heavy metals have been reported in the water at a number of locations. This situation has serious environmental and public health implications. UNICEF reports that children in Iraq suffer from diarrhoea, on average, up to 18 times a year, which is exponentially higher than the two to three episodes experienced by children with access to clean water. One vital component in enhancing water quality is to establish effective and efficient monitoring systems which can monitor the water supply and detect instantaneous pollution incidents. Currently, Iraq’s monitoring system only measures water quality at waste treatment plants and with end-users.

To address water quality, an EU-funded project to establish a ‘Water monitoring task force’ was launched at the end of 2014 to help coordinate the efforts of relevant ministries and other stakeholders. The project put in place an efficient and integrated monitoring system that enhances the quantity and quality of supplies, as well as protects the water supply chain from contamination.

The agriculture sector relies heavily on water for irrigation, however. A responsible sustainable approach for the use of scarce water resources is, therefore, essential. A number of ongoing and planned EU initiatives support water resource management, in all its forms. This ranges from the demining and repair of damaged irrigation systems (for example through a joint MAG-FAO project in Ninewa) and the improvement of water supply and use, to the desalinisation of irrigation water and improved water-efficient crop production.
Education: regaining lost ground in basic

 

 

Education: regaining lost ground and preparing for the future

 
Iraq once (as recently as the 1980s) possessed a robust and successful education system, considered to be one of the most advanced in the region. Prior to 1991, primary enrolment was at 100% and Iraq had one of the highest literacy rates in the Middle East, with close to parity between men and women. Meanwhile, the country’s higher education establishments were world class, particularly in science and technology.

Regaining lost ground in basic education

A constant series of wars, conflicts (starting with the Iraq-Iran war and including the fight against Da'esh) and international sanctions, along with the burden of refugees and IDPs as well as the ensuing underfunding of the education sector, degradation of infrastructure and depreciation of human resources have all dealt the education system a devastating blow, from which it is still struggling to recover. Educational outcomes in Iraq declined steeply in recent years; though primary school net enrolment has improved (91%), only 76% of children complete it. There are wide discrepancies in both enrolment and completion between governorates, gender and urban/rural populations. The enrolment rate ranges widely between the intermediate stage (36%) and the preparatory (pre-university) stage (18%).

In recognising the important role of education in the reconstruction of Iraq (and through the creation of perspectives for Iraq's youth, preparing the much-needed human capital for future diversified economic development), the European Union continues to be the main supporter of education in Iraq. This partnership started in early 2009 in the framework of the Iraq capacity building programme, with a focus on access to and quality of basic education. Between 2014 and 2017 education was included as one of the EU's priority sectors.

Today, a number of important ongoing initiatives continue to support structural reform of the education sector in Iraq. These initiatives (run by the British Council for EUR 14 million) focus on capacity building in primary/secondary education, curricula development and access to education for the most vulnerable groups (notably girls and children with disabilities). They also assist in the introduction and adaptation of a new education management system and the decentralisation of education delivery (run by UNESCO/UNICEF for EUR 8.5 million). Together with UNESCO, the EU promotes access to basic education for Syrian refugees and IDPs through a EUR 12.6 million project that targets vulnerable children in Kurdistan, Ninewa, Anbar and Diyala.  

Preparing for the future with TVET

With TVET widely recognised as key to achieving a range of sustainable development goals, the EU continues to assign particular importance to its TVET programmes. These were started in 2009, with the development of the TVET National Strategy, and are pivotal to the achievement of inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth of industry and business, youth employability and enhanced social well-being. Currently, the EU supports two programmes with UNESCO for EUR 18 million. These focus on education governance, curricula development, capacity building and public-private-partnerships. There is also a sector specific TVET programme for the oil and gas industries, which is aimed at providing young Iraqis with specific qualifications in partnership with the industry, achieved through governance/curriculum/pedagogical reform of the oil training institutes in Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk and Beiji. This hands-on, sector specific TVET approach stands to continue in the agriculture sector, based on the findings and recommendations of the joint EU-UNESCO-CSO labour market and skills analysis conducted in 2018/19.

 

 

Economic governance: the EU-WB partnership


In 2018, the EU and World Bank have set up two dedicated trust funds to strengthen the collaboration on governance in two key areas, notably public finance management and the energy sector. These multi-donor trust funds aim to provide a forum for coordination of reforms for all stakeholders and interested parties.   


Reform of Public Finance Management

The efficient management of public resources and the delivery of services is critical in the achievement of public policy objectives, as well as in restoring the trust and social contract between Iraqi citizens and the country's institutions. This is especially true considering it is a resource-rich, upper-middle income country undergoing post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction. For these reasons, support for  reforms is one of the focal points of EU governance interventions and jointly implemented with the World Bank.

The EU-WB Technical Assistance Programme, at federal and regional levels, complements the existing WB package of PFM reform intervention, and addresses some of the key vulnerabilities in Iraq's PFM; notably with respect to strengthening PFM oversight and accountability. This new Economic Governance program aims to connect key public finance-related areas with the potential to sustainably transform resource management and service delivery by Iraqi public institutions, tangibly delivering benefits to Iraqi citizens. Through its components, the programme supports government counterparts in areas of reform coordination, payroll management, public procurement, State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), legal and regulatory framework, fiscal transparency, legislative oversight, external audit, and anti-corruption.     

 

Governance reform of the Iraqi energy sector

Iraq holds one of the largest hydrocarbon resource wealth endowments in the Middle East. Its challenge is to unlock this wealth through the development and implementation of a modern, transparent, competitive and internationally benchmarked private-sector-enabling framework, managed through capable institutions. The EU and WB have joined forces for the implementation of a project (worth EUR 12.8 million) to support the Government of Iraq in achieving its objective of modernizing the energy sector, building on and complementing past, ongoing and upcoming World Bank interventions in the sector.


Addressing gas flaring

With close to 130 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of proven reserves, Iraq’s largely untapped natural gas reserves are the twelfth largest in the world. These natural gas reserves consist of 70% of associated gas (gas that is dissolved in crude oil and that needs to be separated from oil pumped to the surface). Broad areas of Iraq, however, especially in the western desert, remain unexplored for natural gas, and many existing non-associated gas fields have yet to be fully explored at deeper horizons. With this additional potential, Iraq’s total gas reserves could be as high as 280 TCF, placing the country among the world’s top seven holders of conventional gas reserves.
In stark contrast to its reserves, in 2016 Iraq produced 2.8 billion standard cubic feet per day (BSCFD) of gas. However, more than 60% of the country’s gas is flared in-field, because most Iraqi oil fields lack the infrastructure needed to gather and process natural gas. It is also due to the currently inadequate pipeline system, which is needed to transport gas from processing plants to consumption points. The amount of gas currently flared represents an annual economic loss approximately equivalent to $2.5 billion, and would be sufficient to meet most of Iraq’s unmet needs for gas-based power generation. This forces power plants to use more expensive, less efficient and environmentally harmful fuel substitutes like crude oil, diesel and fuel oil. It has also resulted in the import of expensive natural gas, and precludes the development of industries such as fertilisers, petrochemicals, steel, and aluminium, all dependent on gas feedstock and gas fuel.
The specific objective of the gas sector component of the EU-WB programme is, to introduce institutional, regulatory and contractual conditions which enable private investment in vital infrastructure to handle and distribute gas production. This joint action aims at helping to internalise the costs of currently flared gas and realise Iraq’s prospects as a world-class exporter of natural gas and LNG (liquefied natural gas), capturing the economic and social benefits that can accrue from: increased investment in gas capture, processing, and transmission infrastructure; reduced flaring and waste; the displacement of imported diesel and natural gas by increased allocations of domestic gas for electricity generation.


Addressing electricity shortages

  
The electricity sector in Iraq faces a number of simultaneous and complex challenges. Iraq relies on expensive and imported electricity as well as alternative fuel supply costing an estimated USD 8 billion per year due to the persisting inability to utilize flared gas from petroleum extraction. Despite this constraint to electricity generation, the demand for electricity grows at over 10 % per year leading to chronic electricity shortages with the economic cost of power shortages exceeding USD 40 billion annually. In addition less than 30% of Iraq's total generated electricity is paid for with these payments representing only 10% of the cost of the power generation due to a combination of factors ranging from major state subsidies, to defective transmission lines and grid leakages, and the lack of effective metering/billing/commercial management. The sector remains equally unable to attract private sector capital while the challenging situation is further compounded by a lack of appropriate institutional set-up, legal framework and technical capacity inhibiting new investment and efficient service delivery.
The specific objective of the electricity sector component of the EU-WB programme (EUR 4.12 million) is to help address the outlined challenges and within the policy framework of the Integrated National Energy Strategy (INES) 2013-2030. This project provides technical assistance, advisory services and capacity building to the core electricity sector institutions and thereby pursues the following objectives: 1) Infrastructure restoration and development: definition of plans for reliable power supply service, including renewable energy generation and development; 2) Efficiency improvement: establishment of a system for loss reductions and generation efficiency; 3) Fiscal sustainability: development of plan and legislation for reduced sector subsidies; 4) Institutional development: capacity building and sector reforms.

 

The EU Delegation is helping to spread knowledge of Iraqi art and culture, to increase understanding and recognition of Iraq and its people.

As security has improved in Iraq, cultural activities have increased. These have also become recognised as a good way to bridge and resolve social differences, and provide an environment where the cultural objective is more important than any political message. This has been pursued through various cultural activities, including classical music, football, painting and rap dancing.

EU Film Festivals

Starting in 2015, an annual EU film festival has been held in Iraq:

  • 1st EU Film Festival, May 2015: This featured films from 14 EU countries. Its aim was to present the richness and diversity of the film industries of EU countries, and to provide a forum for reflection and dialogue as well as a chance to meet with civil society, artists and students of film academies in Iraq.
  • 2nd EU Film Festival, May 2016: From 15 to 22 May 2016, 15 European films from 14 EU countries as well as six Kurdish short feature films will be screened in Sulaimaniyah in the Kurdistan Region.
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