EuropeAid in the Gulf region
In 2004, the European Commission decided to replace its range of financial instruments for international co-operation with a revised framework for the planning and delivery of assistance. The resulting Development Co-operation Instrument (DCI) has a global budget of €17 billion for the period 2007-2013. Along with other regions, the DCI covers EU assistance to Yemen, Iraq and Iran.
The DCI simplifies decision-making and allows the EU to make interventions on the basis of a set of principles that can be applied across the world. A consistent approach will help to simplify procedures and make development co-operation more efficient. This way of working should prove to be of great value to Yemen, Iran and Iraq: EU assistance to these countries used to be guided by a number of different co-operation agreements and instruments.
Commission-supported activities in Yemen commenced in 1978 and were financed from budget lines that provided funds for Asian countries. In 1997, the Commission and Yemen agreed on an advanced and expanded framework co-operation agreement, covering commercial, development, and economic co-operation issues. The agreement came into force on 1 July 1998 and provides the basis for long-term contractual commitments between the EU and Yemen.
Although the EU had no political or contractual relations with Iraq under Saddam Hussein's regime, it did provide humanitarian aid during his rule. From 1992 onwards, the EU became the second largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to Iraq – after the UN.
Since the collapse of the Iraqi regime, the EU has made it clear that it wants to play a full role in the country's reconstruction. It has encouraged the UN and the World Bank to set up an independent Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Iraq (the IRFFI - International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq) as a means of channelling international community aid. With the normalisation of the situation in Iraq, the IRFFI is now gradually winding down and Commission assistance is currently implemented using bilateral channels, through the signature of financing agreements with the Government of Iraq.
There are currently no contractual relations between the European Commission and Iran , and therefore no Commission Delegation has yet been opened in Tehran. On 7 February 2001, the Commission adopted a Communication setting out the perspectives and conditions for developing closer relations with Iran, which includes the aim of producing a Trade and Co-operation Agreement.
Expectations were high following former President Muhammad Khatami's re-election in June 2001, but the pace of reform in Iran remained modest. Indeed, reform came to a halt after the Iranian general elections of early 2004, thanks to the hardline adopted by the iranian regime.
The Comprehensive Dialogue between the EU and Iran was suspended by Iran in December 2003, and no meeting within the framework of the EU-Iran Human Rights Dialogue has taken place since June 2004. Therefore, the strengthening of ties between the European Union and Iran remains some way off.