The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission on January 8 adopted a Joint Communication proposing an EU strategy for Iraq. The aim is to address the many challenges the country is facing following the territorial defeat of Da’esh (the Arabic acronym for Islamic State).

The strategy focuses on delivering continued EU humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people and facilitating the stabilisation of areas liberated from Da’esh, with three million displaced Iraqis still unable to return home.

According to a European Commission press release, it also seeks to address the longer term reform, reconstruction and reconciliation efforts that Iraq needs to pursue in order to consolidate peace and build a united, democratic country in which all citizens can fully enjoy their rights in greater prosperity.

“Iraq is at a crossroads in its history following the territorial defeat of Da’esh at great sacrifice,” said Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission. “It is now crucial to act quickly and rebuild the country with the participation of all the components of Iraqi society, to promote and protect fundamental rights and the rule of law in each and every area: only inclusiveness can guarantee true reconciliation so that Iraqis can close once and for all with the past. This needs international support and we are ready to contribute, to keep supporting the Iraqi people and government in these challenges, for the sake of the people of the country and the region.”

In turn, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, who has visited Iraq several times to assess EU aid projects on the ground, said humanitarian needs remain high and many people remain displaced by conflict.

“I have seen first-hand the suffering in places like Mosul and Fallujah and it is crucial that all aid efforts continue to be impartial and neutral,” said Stylianides. “It is essential to support all Iraqis in need of assistance today and tomorrow, for as long as it takes.”

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, added: “As Iraq takes steps towards a more stable future, the EU is committed to being a key partner in reconstruction, stabilisation and longer term sustainable development. The EU aims to strengthen concrete support to the Iraqi people in a wide range of areas, to foster economic growth, good governance and strengthening the judicial system as well as boosting education.”

In order to implement the proposed strategy, the EU will work closely with the Iraqi government but also with the EU member states, the United Nations, the Global Coalition against Da’esh, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, as well as other regional and international partners.