European-Syrian Cooperation Agreement

The relations between Syria and the European Union are currently governed by the 1977 Cooperation Agreement. The Agreement mainly covers trade issues. In particular, it provides duty free access to the EU market for most Syrian industrial goods, and assistance to Syria's "production and economic infrastructure". It also encourages economic dialogue between the parties. Amendments to the Cooperation Agreement were made in 1986 and 1994. Until the launch of the Barcelona Process in 1995, the Cooperation Agreement was the source of funding for the EU's development cooperation with Syria.

EU-Syria Association Agreement

The EU-Syria Association Agreement , negotiated and initialled, but not yet signed, forms part of a network of similar Association Agreements that have been concluded with all Euro-Mediterranean partner countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Authority and Tunisia). When signed, it will constitute the main framework for bilateral relations between Syria and the EU. The Association Agreement covers three main fields:

  • Political relations: It provides the institutional framework for regular political dialogue on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest and will be an instrument to foster mutual understanding.
  • Economy and Trade relations: It will create a free-trade area between the EU and Syria through tariff dismantlement over 12 years. It will also facilitate trade through regulatory approximation, as well as legal, administrative and economic reform.
  • Cooperation: Almost all areas of cooperation - ranging from education and scientific cooperation, over cultural heritage and environmental protection, to health, agriculture, investment and the fight against organised crime - are covered by the Agreement.

The European-Syrian Association Agreement , was negotiated between 1998 and 2004, when it was first initialled. At that time the EU deemed that political circumstances were not right for its signature. In December 2008 the Agreement was re-initialled, following a technical update to reflect the latest enlargement of the EU and the reforms undertaken by Syria since 2004.

In October 2009, the EU Member States unanimously agreed that they wish to sign the EU-Syria Association Agreement . The Syrian authorities replied to the EU Council's invitation to sign, with a request for time to further examine the Agreement.

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