EU Strategy for Syria

In “Europe as a stronger global actor”

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For a brief overview of the key points of the adopted text and its significance for the citizen, please see the corresponding summary note.

On 14 March 2017 the European Commission presented an EU strategy for Syria that sets out how the EU can help to rebuild a peaceful and stable Syrian nation and a pluralistic, tolerant civil society in Syria. Mentioned for the first time in Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's State of the Union address in September 2016, the strategy proposes a set of concrete measures that will contribute towards increasing the EU's role in terminating the conflict that began in 2011. The Council endorsed this strategy on 3 April 2017 and re-endorsed it once more in April 2018.

The EU Strategy for Syria reiterates the EU's commitment to the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Syrian State. It repeats the call for a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition based on the principles of the 2012 Geneva communiqué and UN Security Council Resolution 2254. The EU also reiterates its commitment as the biggest funder of humanitarian efforts inside Syria and renews its support to Syrian civil society organisations. The strategy also sets out EU efforts to prepare the ground for accountability for war crimes, with a view to facilitating a national reconciliation process and transitional justice, and to support the resilience of the Syrian population.

The EU has stressed that it will be ready to assist in the reconstruction of Syria only when a comprehensive, genuine and inclusive political transition, negotiated by the Syrian parties in the conflict on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, is firmly under way.

A second pledging conference to support Syria and the region was held in Brussels on 24-25 April 2018.  The conference succeeded in mobilising humanitarian aid to Syrians inside the country and in the neighbouring countries, including for hosting communities, through pledges totalling $ 4.4 billion (€ 3.5 billion) for 2018, as well as multi-year pledges of $ 3.4 billion (€ 2.7 billion) for 2019-2020.

Initially, the framework for the European Union's response to the Syrian crisis was laid down in the EU regional strategy for Syria, Iraq and the Da'esh threat, adopted by the Council on 16 March 2015. In May 2016, the EU reviewed the strategy and agreed to keep implementing it as set out in the Council conclusions of 23 May 2016. With the current strategy, the EU has developed a specific strategy for its approach to Syria as a country-specific part of the regional strategy.

On 18 May 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the EU Strategy on Syria. In the resolution, Parliament welcomed the strategy and called on all international donors to continue their financial support for Syria, as reconfirmed during the donor conference on Syria in Brussels on 4-5 April 2017. Parliament strongly condemned the atrocities and widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict, particularly the chemical attack in Idlib province on 4 April 2017, which killed at least 70 civilians. The resolution welcomed the setting up of de-escalation zones in Syria, with the intention of creating conditions for humanitarian access, medical assistance, the return of displaced civilians to their homes and the restoration of damaged infrastructure. In this context, Parliament recognised concerns expressed by the opposition that the creation of de-escalation zones could lead to the establishment of zones of influence and the division of Syria. Parliament welcomed the strategy’s focus on supporting the resilience of the Syrian population and Syrian society and expressed satisfaction that the strategy recognised the role of civil society, including women’s role.

On 15 March 2018, the European Parliament adopted a further resolution on Syria. Parliament once more strongly condemned all atrocities and the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed during the conflict, and in particular the acts perpetrated by forces of the Assad regime, including with the support of its allies Russia and Iran, as well as by the UN-listed terrorist organisations. Parliament also expressed deep concern about Turkey’s intervention in areas of Syria controlled by Kurdish forces.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the European Union and its member states have provided more than €16.8 billion in humanitarian, development, economic and stabilisation assistance, to help those who have fled the war, both within and outside Syria. The EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis (the Madad Fund) was established in December 2014 to ensure a more flexible response for the region affected by the Syrian crisis. Contributions to the Trust Fund have reached EUR 1.8 billion to date.


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Author: Beatrix Immenkamp, Members' Research Service,


As of 20/11/2019.