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Additional €200 million for Iraq on eve of electio

European Commission proposes additional €200 million for Iraq on eve of elections

The European Commission has proposed an additional package of
€200 million to assist with the reconstruction of Iraq, just a few days before the Iraqis have the chance to exercise their democratic right to vote for the first time. This new contribution is a further indication of the Commission’s determination to support the political and economic transition in Iraq. The proposal comprises three key elements and a reserve fund: €130 million to boost essential services and jobs; €15 million for technical assistance to help build Iraq’s capacity in the important areas of energy and trade; and
€10 million to support the political process, perhaps including help in drafting the new Constitution. €45 million will be held in reserve to allow a flexible response to changing circumstances on the ground and to respond to the needs identified by the new Iraqi government formed after the elections on 30 January.

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, commented: “Our proposal means that we will be significant partners for the new Iraqi administration. 2005 will be a critical year for Iraq and we remain committed to reconstructing the country under the newly elected Transitional Government, and to improving the political situation and the lives of the Iraqi people.”

Support for essential services and jobs (€130m)

It is proposed that this money will be channelled to the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) multilateral trust fund managed by the World Bank and the UN. The focus will be on supporting activities to restore and strengthen delivery of education and health services, increasing employment opportunities, and developing administrative capacity in the Iraqi administration. This support will be important in helping the new government meet the needs and expectations of the Iraqi population.

Energy and Trade (€15m)

Bilateral technical assistance is proposed in the key areas of energy and trade and investment, to increase capacity in the Iraqi institutions involved. Energy and trade are key sectors to boost Iraqi growth. The EU has essential expertise and know-how to offer the Iraqi institutions and private actors in these sectors.

Support for the Political Process (€10m)

€10 million has been set aside to support the political process, the development of civil society and human rights, under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights. Some this money could be made available to assist with the drafting of the new Constitution, where it is likely that the UN will play the leading role. It will also be channelled to the growing number of civil society organisations in Iraq who can play a key role in reducing tensions between communities, and will therefore be important for the general stabilisation of the country.

The Commission discussed the plans of its assistance for 2005 with the EU Member States in the ALA Committee on 27 January. Earlier, in the autumn of 2004, discussions were also held with the Iraqi interim government who welcomed the Commission’s proposal. The Commission will now finalise the administrative procedures required.

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