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.
The EU-Iraq relationship is underpinned by two bilateral agreements: the Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation, signed in 2010, and the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), signed in 2012. The first is a framework for cooperation in the field of energy while the second deals with a wider range of issues including counter-terrorism and trade.
War and internal conflicts have led to a lot of turmoil in Iraq in recent years. The EU has given assistance by providing humanitarian aid, developing political and electoral processes, promoting human rights and the rule of law, developing civil society organisations, and providing basic services such as water supply, health and education.
The bilateral agreements aim to support Iraq’s reform and development and its integration into the wider international community:
- The Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation (January 2010): This agreement creates a framework for improving and developing energy relations between the EU and Iraq. It covers such issues as Iraq's energy policy, securing energy supplies, renewable energy, energy efficiency and improving technological, scientific and industrial cooperation.
- The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (2012): The PCA is the main tool for the EU’s support to Iraq. It provides a legal framework for improving ties and cooperation in a wide range of areas. These include political issues, counter-terrorism, trade, human rights, health, education and the environment.
Iraq is a republic with a democratically elected government. Its constitution commits the government to democratic principles and to enforcing human rights. Iraq has 18 provinces and one region (Kurdistan), and Islam is the state religion.
Iraq faces many political, security and socio-economic challenges. Several aspects of its internal organisation are hotly debated, including the degree of federalism, the status of Kirkuk, the drawing of internal boundaries, and the sharing of resources.
Iraq has experienced turmoil since the 1980s. Recent significant events include:
- 2003: US-led Multi-National Force (MNF-I) overthrew Saddam Hussein, leading to several years of political volatility, sectarian violence and population movements
- June 2004: The Coalition Provincial Authority (CPA) transferred the powers to an interim Iraqi Government
- January 2005: National elections established the Transitional National Assembly
- October 2005: A referendum passed the constitution
- December 2005: General election
- May 2006: First elected post-Saddam Iraqi Government was formed
- 2009: Significant improvements were made in the security situation and reduced sectarian violence
- 2009: The UN Security Council (UNSC) mandate for Multinational Forces in Iraq (MNF-I) ended
- 2009: A security agreement was made with the US
- January 2009: Provincial elections
- June 2009: Kurdistan regional elections
- March 2010: General election