The legal basis for EU-Syria relations is the 1977 Cooperation Agreement.
In May 2011, the EU suspended its bilateral cooperation programmes with the Syrian Government under the European Neighbourhood Policy. Participation by the Syrian authorities in EU regional programmes was also suspended. The same applied to the European Investment Bank's loan operations and technical assistance to Syria. The EU Delegation to Syria stayed open until December 2012, when there was no alternative but to scale down operations for security reasons.
As of August 2011, the EU responded to the harsh repression of peaceful demonstrations against the government by freezing its bilateral financial and technical assistance programmes with Syria. It gradually extended restrictive measuresin areas such as oil, banking and trade, to pressurise the Syrian Government into ending violence, and to encourage a political solution to the conflict. The EU also imposed travel bans on a number of Syrian citizens. From the very outset, it has condemned human rights violations in Syria in the strongest terms.
In response to the conflict and its consequences - both in Syria and in neighbouring countries – the EU adopted a joint communication in June 2013 that sets out a comprehensive EU approach.
The EU Foreign Affairs Council of 20 October 2014 endorsed the Syria and Iraq: Counter-Terrorism/Foreign Fighters Strategy, which is an integral part of the EU regional strategy for Syria, Iraq and the Da'esh threat adopted by the Council of 16 March 2015.
The EU has reiterated the urgent need to find a political solution to the conflict, and will continue to work with all interested parties:
It fully supports the efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to de-escalate violence little by little in preparation for a broader, sustainable political process. The EU recalls that the overall objective remains a Syrian-led process leading to a transition that meets the aspirations of all the Syrian people, based on the Geneva communiqué of 30 June 2012 and in line with relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
The Syrian crisis has become the world's worst humanitarian and security disaster. The EU and its constituent countries are leading the international response. As the largest donor, they have mobilised over €3 bn in development and humanitarian aid since the conflict began. This aid is dispensed both inside Syria and to refugees and their host communities. The EU calls on the parties involved to:
The EU has contributed significant funds to ridding Syria ofchemical weapons . It is maintaining pressure on the country to ensure that its chemical weapons programme is completely and irreversibly dismantled.