RELATIONS WITH THE EU
The European Union and Syria
Since the start of the conflict, the EU has been calling for an end to the unacceptable violence in Syria, which continues to cause the suffering of millions of Syrians and immeasurable destruction of infrastructure. Attacks on cultural heritage are also an unfortunate consequence of the conflict. The EU continues to condemn in the strongest terms the continuing violence and the widespread and systematic violations of human rights.
The European Union believes there can be no military solution to the conflict, and the elimination of Da'esh and other UN-listed terrorist entities in Syria requires a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
The EU has called for an end to the unacceptable violence in Syria, which continues to cause the suffering of millions of Syrians and immeasurable destruction of infrastructure. The EU continues to condemn the continuing violence and the widespread and systematic violations of human rights.
The EU's strategic objectives in Syria are focused on six key areas:
- An end to the war through a genuine political transition, in line with UNSCR 2254, negotiated by the parties to the conflict under the auspices of the UN Special Envoy for Syria and with the support of key international and regional actors.
- Promote an inclusive transition in Syria, in line with UNSCR 2254 and the Geneva Communiqué, through support for the strengthening of the political opposition.
- Save lives by addressing the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable Syrians across the country, in a timely, effective, efficient and principled manner.
- Promote democracy, human rights and freedom of speech by strengthening Syrian civil society organisations.
- Promote accountability for war crimes with a view to facilitating a national reconciliation process and transitional justice.
- Support the resilience of Syria’s population and society.
The “European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations“ (ECHO) is the humanitarian arm of EU in Syria. The main mission of ECHO is to preserve lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering and safeguard the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.
Headquartered in Brussels with a global network of field offices, ECHO ensures rapid and effective delivery of EU relief assistance. ECHO has been a leading donor for providing humanitarian assistance inside Syria and maintains daily contact with various humanitarian actors in Syria.
It provides humanitarian aid through its trusted partners such as ICRC, UN agencies and international and local implementing partners, using all possible channels to deliver assistance across Syria. This includes cross line operations and cross border from Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
As everywhere else in the world, ECHO Syria operates with great autonomy. Its work is based solely on humanitarian principles of independent, impartial, neutral and needs-based assistance. The ECHO Office in Damascus allows the EU to monitor the scale-up of humanitarian aid operations inside Syria and to engage directly with humanitarian partners on the ground.
Furthermore, the presence of ECHO in and around Syria informs the EU's active membership in the International Syria Support Group, especially in its humanitarian task force.
The EU also supports refugees and their host communities in the countries neighbouring Syria.
The assistance provided by DG NEAR inside Syria aims at supporting the resilience efforts of Syrian citizens wherever possible at a grassroots level. DG NEAR support goes beyond emergency and life-saving responses and further addresses the second and third pillars of the Humanitarian Response Plan (protection, resilience and access to services).
At the core of the assistance is the provision of medium-term support to the Syrians themselves, as communities or individual agents of change in their quest to live in a peaceful and prosperous society. Thus, socio-economic rights and the right to lead a dignified life are emphasised through actions, which ensure the availability of decent work and access to essential services. In a context where the on-going economic crisis is likely to deteriorate further, building the resilience of the Syrian population is key to maintaining social cohesion.
The main focus of DG NEAR’s assistance is on education, health, livelihoods, community and CSO support, human rights protection, women empowerment, transitional justice and accountability.
Robust risk monitoring and mitigation measures form the backbone of this support, including time-sensitive analysis of programme locations and activity-specific risks, security and context developments, partners and entity checks, as well as thematic analysis across geographies.
Support to Stability and Peace Building
The European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) is in charge of identifying, formulating and carrying out interventions for crisis response, conflict prevention, peace-building and crisis preparedness.
FPI was responsible for the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) that funded many projects in Syria since 2011 including supporting the UN-led peace efforts civil society dialogue initiatives, transitional justice and countering violent extremism. From mid-2021 on, FPI will manage funds under the crisis response pillar of the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI). FPI’s projects are implemented through international NGOs and Member State agencies.
FPI provides support to the UN-brokered international mediation efforts, as per the EU’s Strategy in Syria, emphasising the need for a negotiated political solution to the conflict in-line with UNSCR 2254 and with support from key international and regional actors.
FPI is active in the field of transitional justice and accountability through supporting the collection and analysis of evidence material related to potential crimes under international criminal and humanitarian law.
Besides, several FPI’s projects focus on stabilisation in northeast Syria. These projects include the provision of basic services, engagement with local civil society to implement activities promoting social cohesion and supporting reintegration and providing much needed protection services and psychosocial support to children.
Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region
Since 2017, the European Union has been organising the Brussels Conferences that are co-chaired with the United Nations, on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”. They are co-chaired with the United Nations.
The objective of the Brussels Conferences is to support the Syrian people and mobilise the international community in support of a lasting political solution to the Syria crisis, in line with UNSCR 2254. All editions of the Brussels Conferences have addressed the most critical humanitarian and resilience issues affecting Syrians and hosting communities. They also renew the international community’s political and financial support for Syria’s neighbours.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011, the EU and its Member States have mobilised over €24 billion to help those affected by the Syrian war. This makes the EU collectively the largest provider of international aid in response to the Syria crisis.
The Conferences have grown over the years to provide an interactive platform for dialogue with civil society and NGOs from inside and outside Syria. This approach reflects the strong belief by the EU and the donor community that Syria’s civil society has a key role to play to build a more inclusive future for Syria.