EU-Syria Agreements

The Co-operation Agreement concluded in 1977 between the Community and Syria was signed in the framework of the Community Mediterranean policy. It provides for the free access of Syria’s industrial products to the Community market and tariffs concessions for some agricultural products; it is still in application today. It is complemented by « financial » protocols which determine the subsidies and credits granted to Syria as part of the « technical and financial co-operation ». The first two financial protocols provide respectively assistance amounting to 60 million ECU (1977-1981) and 97 million ECU (1982-1986).

The 1977 Agreement has been completed since its entry into force by « additional » protocols which are aimed at:

  • extending the geographical application field of the 1977 agreement in regard with the enlargement of the Community;
  • adapting this agreement to the new economical realities resulting from the enlargement as much as to the benefit of Syria as to the new Community members.

In November 1986, relationship between the Community and Syria rapidly deteriorated as Syria was suspected to be involved in international terrorist activities. The co-operation between the two parties was as a result seriously affected: the implementation of the first two financial protocols was blocked and new protocols postponed.

Two « additional » protocols – following the enlargement of the Community to include Spain and Portugal – were however signed on June 1988 and received the assent of the European Parliament on the 12 October 1988 for their entry into force.

The discussions on the third financial protocol (1987-91) – 146 million ECU – were blocked until February 1991. Their resumption marks the formal restart of the relationship between the Community and Syria. It was facilitated by the Syrian participation in the allied coalition in the Gulf against Iraq. This protocol was late in coming into force however. This was due to the fact that the European Parliament was extremely critical of the Human Rights situation in Syria and provided its assent for the Protocol only in October 1992.

The approval of the fourth financial protocol (1992-96) – 158 million ECU -, was initially denied by the European Parliament for the same reasons, and assent was given on 15 December 1993.

In November 1994, at the occasion of their first Co-operation Council since 1977, the Community and Syria claimed their desire to see their relation deepen. Syria participated in the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean Conference in November 1995. Two years later (December 1997) the Council of Ministers gave mandate the Commission to start the official negotiations on the conclusion of an Euro-Mediterranean Agreement between the European Union and Syria.

See also: Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.