European Union External Action

EU actions to counter Da’esh

Bruxelles, 11/07/2018 - 10:47, UNIQUE ID: 170322_11

The European Union is fully committed to the fight against terrorism, both inside and outside the Union. The progressive eradication of Da'esh and other terrorist groups is crucial in this regard. The EU's comprehensive actions —ranging from preventing and countering violent extremism to supporting law enforcement agencies and rehabilitation and reconciliation efforts of communities in territories formerly usurped by Da'esh. EU support is based on a rule of law approach, in full compliance with international law, fundamental values and international human rights standards.

The adoption of an an EU Strategy for Syria in April 2017 and an EU Strategy for Iraq in January 2018, further underscored the EU's focus on combating the remnants of Da'esh and the stabilisation of liberated areas. The EU has stepped up its bilateral and multilateral engagement with international partners, including the United Nations (UN), the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Global Coalition against Da'esh. The common aim is to stem the spread of Foreign Terrorist Fighters, stabilise areas liberated from Da'esh, clog Da'esh financial flows and counter Da'esh narrative and messages. Combatting Da'esh in the long-term requires addressing the political and socio-economic root causes that have facilitated the spread of terrorism.

Specific EU actions in counterterrorism

Dedicated counterterrorism structures have been set up within the EU institutions and across the global network of EU Delegations, in view of enhancing and coordinating the fight against terrorism, notably  against Da'esh. So far, 13 Counterterrorism experts have been deployed to most concerned EU Delegations, to liaise with local authorities and contribute to joint counter-terrorism efforts. In view of helping prevent foreign terrorist fighters' creating new safe havens elsewhere after the demise of Da'esh as a territorial entity in Iraq and Syria, the EU deploys additional experts to Ethiopia (in liaison to the African Union), Kenya (regional for the Horn of Africa), Indonesia (regional for Southeast Asia and liaison for ASEAN) and Kyrgyzstan (regional for Central Asia).

Concrete Counterterrorism Action Plans are in place with Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel and Tunisia, and under preparation with partners in the Western Balkans. A dedicated Counterterrorism Dialogue with Iraq has been launched. On the latter, in coordination with the UN and the Global Coalition against Da'esh, the EU is engaging in substantial work with the Iraqi intelligence community directly.

As of the end of 2017, the EU contributed via its external financing instruments €274 million to counter-terrorism and Preventing-Countering Violent Extremism-specific projects. The focus of such projects is primarily on the Middle East and North Africa, but the Western Balkans, Turkey, Central Asia and Pakistan also fall within the geographical scope.

The EU works with a range of actors including NGOs, local municipalities and religious organisations to provide alternative pathways and to research the drivers behind radicalisation; it also provides support to law enforcement and security agencies to enhance operational capabilities in fields such as integrated border management and judicial cooperation. 

Preventing the diversion of arms and dual-use goods to terrorists is a guiding principle of the EU's export-control rules. To identify diversion, the EU supports the tracking of supplies of arms and explosive materials to terrorist organisations, including Da'esh.

The EU transposed into binding EU law UN Security Council Resolution 2253/2015, which prohibits making economic resources available to Da'esh. This prohibition applies to both direct and indirect trade in oil.

The EU has adopted a broad range of measures that support the Global Coalition in its fight against Da'esh to gather evidence in the battlefield and bring Da'esh to justice. The EU actively participates in the Coalition's working groups on foreign terrorist fighters, anti-money-laundering / countering terrorism financing, communications and stabilisation.


The stabilisation of liberated areas in Iraq has been a major priority for the EU. As co-chair of the Global Coalition´s sub-working group on explosive hazards mitigation, the EU has provided €16.3 million for the United Nations Mine Actions Service (UNMAS) to work in Iraq. The EU, together with UNMAS and Global Coalition partners, has been instrumental in establishing an integrated and blended approach to the "demining" challenge in Iraq and in managing donor coordination. These efforts have leveraged contributions of over €200 million to explosive hazard mitigation in Iraq from all donors. The EU has also provided €60.4 million to the UN Development Programme's Funding Facilities for Stabilisation.

Support to the security sector reform and the rule of law are essential components of the EU's contribution to the stabilisation of Iraq. €16 million are being channelled to projects in areas liberated from Da'esh, to improve Iraqi counterterrorism capabilities, including the interoperability of Iraqi security services, the development of a humanrights compliant Iraqi counterterrorism strategy, the protection of cultural heritage and other legislative and administrative measures. In November 2017, the EU deployed an Advisory Mission to Iraq (EUAM Iraq) - a civilian mission under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) - to support Iraqi civilian security sector reform and provide strategic advice and assistance in areas such as counterterrorism and fighting organised crime.

In June 2018, following sustained international support and scrutiny – in which the EU played an active role – Iraq has been removed from the FATF List of Countries that have been identified as having strategic deficiencies in anti-money-laundering and countering terrorism financing.

Overall, these actions aim at making the results of earlier EU stabilisation interventions in Iraq sustainable. In view of achieving long-term stability in the country, the EU also supports national and community reconciliation and local governments through several actions, for example aimed at reducing tensions between Internally Displaced Persons and host communities through a €3.5 million contribution.

The EU is at the forefront of the humanitarian response in Iraq to support the victims of the conflict, having delivered a total amount of €370 million since 2014.


The primary objetive of the European Union in Syria is to reach an end to the conflict through a genuine political settlement in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254/2015 and to decisively defeat Da'esh and other terrorist organisations. This can only be achieve through a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition, which would bring lasting peace to the country and enable Syrians to return to their homes in safeand dignified conditions and contribute to the reconstruction of the country.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the European Union has allocated more than €1 billion in assistance to the Syrian population living in Syria, including Internally Displaced persons and their host communities, in particular €740 million to cover humanitarian needs.

To promote resilience and stabilisation, at least €13.7 million have been allocated to support Syrian civil society and human-rights organisations, including for human rights violation documentation, support to independent media, transitional justice and accountability, and capacity development.   

A €10 million support package to Mine Action in areas liberated from Da'esh by the Global Coalition was adopted in April 2018, as part of the joint efforts undertaken by the Global Coalition to stabilise the area.

The EU promotes transitional justice and accountability for all serious human rights abuses and violations of International Humanitarian Law, including any which may constitute a war crime committed in Syria by all parties, including Da'esh. The EU supports various projects, for example:

More than €65.2 million aimed at supporting dialogue initiatives, transitional justice and countering violent extremism, as well as €2 million to support political dialogue between parties to the armed conflict.  At least €80 million have been allocated to the education sector to contribute to the "no lost generation" initiative to increase basic and secondary education enrolment and quality and improve psycho-social well-being of children and youth.

A project of €8 million is in place to promote the use of mass-media programming and platforms to build resilience and social cohesion to promote inclusion and counter violent conflict and radicalisation across all sections of Syrian society.

€1.5 million have been provided to support the Commission for International Justice and Accountability, contributing to International Security and Justice in Syria and the global pursuit of justice for the victims of war, to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the belligerent parties inside Syria. Also, since 2017 the EU supports the International Commission on Missing Persons to launch a process of collecting data on missing persons from Syria. € 1.5 million has also been made available to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in Syria.