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The partnership between the European Union (EU) and Jordan is underpinned by a shared commitment to boost Jordan’s social and economic development through reforms and reinforce stability and growth while addressing the consequences of the Syrian crisis.
The EU-Jordan Association Agreement entered into force in May 2002 and forms the legal basis of the relations between the EU and Jordan.
In December 2016, the EU and Jordan adopted Partnership Priorities (extended until end 2021) which set out the framework for EU political engagement and enhanced cooperation with Jordan. They also included an annexed EU-Jordan Compact outlining mutual commitments and actions to address the impact of the Syrian crisis, and seeking to improve the living conditions of both refugees temporarily living in Jordan and Jordanian citizens.
In July 2016, the EU and Jordan agreed on a simplification of the rules of origin applicable to imports of Jordanian goods into the EU in line with the EU-Jordan Compact. The simplification was further amended in December 2018 to accelerate its uptake. The simplification allows producers in Jordan to use a very advantageous set of rules of origin (equivalent to the ones granted to least-developed countries under the EU’s Everything But Arms initiative), on the condition that the production of their goods offers new job opportunities for Syrian refugees. The scheme applies to 52 different product categories including textiles and garments, engineering and electrical products, chemical products, plastic products, and furniture and wood products. This initiative is already opening up new opportunities for trade with the EU, and its use by Jordanian exporters has increased year-on-year.
The EU and Jordan signed a Mobility Partnership in October 2014 to better manage mobility and migration. In 2011, the Council of the European Union adopted negotiation directives for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. However, the actual negotiation have not yet started, as Jordan has so far not been prepared to do so.
The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) was the key EU financial instrument for bilateral cooperation in Jordan for the period 2014-2020. The new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) will frame the EU’s cooperation for the period 2021-2027. The instrument’s innovative approach includes but also looks beyond grant funding. An increased accent on blending EU grants with loans from European and International Financing Institutions will allow partner counties to unlock substantial level of concessional funding for investments. The new system of guarantees provided for under the NDICI will give access to additional funds from the crowding-in of both public and private investors.
Bilateral assistance follows multiannual programming through the Single Support Framework, which defines the areas of focus for the EU’s assistance, in line with the Partnership Priorities. For the period 2014-2020, the EU's bilateral assistance to Jordan under the ENI amounted to €765 million and focuses on the following three priority sectors:
- Enhancing social and economic development,
- Strengthening the rule of law,
- Upgrading border management and preventing violent extremism.
The EU is working with other donors and partners to support Jordan’s economy and reform agenda. In 2019, the EU led a High-level Mission to Jordan, with the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank group as well as French, German and British institutions, to confirm international support for the country and identify key structural reforms and investments. As an example, joint investments have materialized to improve solid and water waste management. Socio-economic reforms to improve the business environment and develop private sector are being supported, in coordination with other partners.
On 9 February 2021, the European Commission adopted a Joint Communication on the renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood, establishing a new Agenda for the Mediterranean to relaunch and reinforce the EU’s partnership with the region. It will guide EU policy and programming towards the country for the coming years. The Joint Communication is accompanied by an Economic and Investment Plan for the Southern Neighbours to ensure amongst others that the quality of life for people in the region improves and the economic recovery, including following the COVID-19 pandemic, leaves no one behind. The Plan includes 12 preliminary flagship initiatives to strengthen resilience, build prosperity and increase trade and investment to support competitiveness and inclusive growth. Relevant flagships for Jordan include (1) investment in education to upgrade the skills of the youth, (2) improvement of the health system to provide quality services especially to the most vulnerable groups, (3) investment in the design of sustainable and comprehensive social assistance systems, (4) help to maximize the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency for water pumping, waste management and agriculture, (5) support to SMEs, (6) improvement of regional integration and connectivity.
In addition to bilateral cooperation, Jordan benefits from Neighbourhood-wide cooperation programmes under the ENI in the sectors of the rule of law and justice, environmental and climate protection, migration, culture and youth.
Under the EU twinning tool, the Jordanian public administration is partnering with European administrations for mutual learning and capacity building through sharing of EU best practices with six twinning projects in 2014-2020 in key sectors such as justice, home affairs, employment, standardisation and certification. Jordan also benefits from TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument, 75 events in 2015-2020) and SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management, about €1 million in 2014-2020) that support public administration reforms.
Moreover, under the EU External Investment Plan and the blending mechanism of the Neighbourhood Investment Platform, Jordan is benefitting from €126 million of EU grants which allowed Jordan to access loans worth €622 million since 2010 for projects in the sectors of energy, water and sanitation, transport, and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises development. EU grants increase the concessional nature of loans from International Financial Institutions and absorb political and economic risks.
Syrian refugee crisis
The EU has spearheaded the international response to the Syrian crisis, supporting actions both inside Syria and in the affected neighbouring countries, with €24.9 billion mobilised by the EU and its Member States since 2011.
Jordan and its people have been severely affected by the Syrian crisis, with over 663,000 refugees from Syria registered by UNHCR (February 2021). The EU’s total assistance to help Jordan manage the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis amounts to almost €3.3 billion since 2011 through its various instruments. This includes:
- €1.2 billion in bilateral assistance under the ENI
- €512 million in non-humanitarian resilience assistance channeled through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis since its creation in 2015 to help Jordan cope with the refugee crisis, assist the refugees from Syria to strengthen their resilience and support them to become increasingly self-reliant
- €375 million in humanitarian assistance
- €65 million under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace
- €1.08 billion in Macro-Financial Assistance. The last loan programme of €700 million was adopted in May 2020 to help Jordan support its economic stabilisation, enhance public debt sustainability, accelerate implementation of economic reforms and limit the economic fallout due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This support is helping Jordanian institutions, vulnerable Jordanians and refugees from Syria by:
- Protecting the most vulnerable, both Jordanians and Syrians, meeting their most pressing humanitarian needs such as for health, food, shelter, water and sanitation,
- Assisting Syrian refugees, providing them decent living conditions and access to basic services, including through advocacy on legal registration in the country,
- Promoting economic growth and job creation for both Jordanian citizens and Syrian refugees, notably through facilitating access to basic, vocational and higher education, supporting private sector development, and facilitating trade with the EU. The aim is to foster socio-economic inclusion of refugees and increase their contribution to Jordan’s economic development,
- Reinforcing the capacities of Jordanian institutions responsible for responding to the Syrian crisis at national and local levels, including by investing in the upgrading of infrastructure to cope with the additional pressure resulting from the refugee presence,
- Supporting the operationalisation of the Jordanian National Social Protection Strategy (2019-2025), as part of EU’s long term support to social protection, which will contribute to the achievement of a sustainable system, in policy as well as institutional set-up,
- Supporting the country’s macro-economic stability through the provision of direct budget support and Macro-Financial assistance to the Government.
At the Brussels I Conference (5 April 2017), the Brussels II Conference (24-25 April 2018), the Brussels III Conference (12-14 March 2019) and the Brussels IV Conference (22-30 June 2020), the EU and the international community renewed their support to the critical efforts the Jordanian government and citizens are undertaking in response to the crisis. The Brussels V Conference takes place on 29 and 30 March 2021.
UNRWA and Palestine refugees
Jordan hosts more than 2.2 million Palestine refugees, of whom 17,500 come from Syria, displaced for a second time. The country benefits from EU contributions to the central budget of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which amounted to €903 million in 2014-2020. In addition and in the context of the Syrian crisis, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis is supporting UNRWA with targeted actions to meet the needs of Palestine refugees displaced from Syria, as well as the host communities for a total of €18.2 million since 2015.
Other financing instruments
Jordan participates in Erasmus+, which supports the modernisation of the higher education sector and promotes mobility and co-operation with EU higher education institutions. 3,510 Jordanian students, professors and administrative staff travelled to Europe and 2,210 Europeans counterparts travelled to Jordan between 2015 and 2020.
Jordan benefits from additional EU thematic programmes and instruments:
- The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights: €5 million in 2014-2020
- The Development Cooperation Instrument and its programme ‘Non-State Actors and Local Authorities’: €4 million in 2014-2020
Factsheets available to download
- Inventiveness at the service of children’s education through the EDU-SYRIA project
- Strenghtening co-existence and self-esteem in Jordanian public schools through the Hayati project
- Boosting competitiveness and sustainability of Jordanian culture operators through the Tashbeek project
- Promoting Financial Inclusion in Jordan