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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)

EU and Syria

The Syria crisis continues to generate humanitarian needs unparalleled in scale, severity, and complexity and to have profound repercussions for the overall stability of the region. The Syria crisis remains also one of the largest humanitarian crises of our times and the world’s largest refugee crisis.

The European Union (EU) suspended all its bilateral cooperation with the Government of Syria in May 2011, following the escalation of violence and unacceptable human rights situation. The EU has adopted in parallel specific and targeted restrictive measures (i.e., sanctions) against the Syrian regime. Syria’s participation in EU-funded regional programmes and the provision of loans and technical assistance to the country through the European Investment Bank (EIB) was also ceased. Given the volatile situation, there is no multi-annual programming of EU assistance in Syria.

Nevertheless, the EU maintains direct support to the Syrian population, both inside Syria and in the neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Türkiye via several instruments: annual Special Measures under the funding instrument NDICI – Global Europe, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis and the Facility for Refugees in Türkiye.

The EU Strategy for Syria was adopted on 14 March 2017, accompanied by the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions on Syria on 3 April 2017 and 16 April 2018. The latest Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions on Syria were adopted on 14 October 2019 and endorsed by the European Council on 17-18 October 2019.

EU assistance to the Syrian population

The EU and its Member States have mobilised over EUR 30 billion since 2011, remaining the largest provider of international aid and delivering humanitarian, stabilisation and resilience assistance inside Syria and in neighbouring countries.

Donors Conference
Donors' Conference

Together for the people in Türkiye and Syria



The European Neighbourhood Instrument

The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) was one of the main EU financing instruments to address the medium to longer-term needs of the population affected by the conflict 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.

In Syria, EU cooperation aims at supporting the resilience of the population and paving the way for transition and post-conflict recovery. Assistance is provided in sectors such as education, livelihoods, civil society capacity building, health, accountability and transitional justice. EU support through the ENI is provided, as much as feasible, all over Syria and delivered through United Nations agencies, international and Syrian NGOs as well as EU Member State agencies, in complementarity to humanitarian aid.

€349.4 million has been mobilised through the ENI for inside Syria since the start of the conflict in 2011.

On 9 February 2021, the European Commission adopted a Joint Communication on the renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood, that will help guide EU policy and programming for the coming years.

The EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis

Since 2015, a significant proportion of non-humanitarian assistance to help Syria’s neighbours coping with the refugee crisis and to assist refugees from Syria has been channelled through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (EUTF Syria). The EUTF Syria has brought about a rapid and integrated EU response to the crisis, merging funding from various EU financing instruments and contributions from 21 EU Member States, Türkiye and the United Kingdom into one single, flexible and responsive mechanism. Its total budget amounts to €2.3 billion (with €2.2 billion already allocated to concrete actions), benefitting over 7 million people primarily in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Türkiye.

As the crisis became protracted, the needs have changed and the EUTF Syria has evolved from providing early recovery assistance focused on basic needs to equipping refugees and local communities with sustainable tools and skills for greater self-reliance. It focuses on strengthening self-reliance of refugees and vulnerable people in host communities, providing access to education and training, protection and social cohesion, health, water and sanitation as well as job creation and integration into labour markets. Particular attention is paid to the specific needs of women, children and youth. The EUTF Syria is also supporting host governments in strengthening their national systems for public service delivery to meet refugee and local community needs in the longer term.

Brussels Conferences on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”

The EU has been at the forefront of efforts to mobilise funds and keep Syria high on the agenda, having convened seven international donor conferences in Brussels since 2017.

The overarching objective of the Brussels Conferences is to continue supporting the Syrian population and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees and mobilise the international community in support of a comprehensive and credible political solution to the Syria conflict, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. The Conferences also offer a platform bringing representatives from Syrian, regional and international non-governmental and civil society organisations together with policy makers during the “Days of Dialogue”: Brussels I Conference (5 April 2017), Brussels II Conference (24-25 April 2018), Brussels III Conference (12-14 March 2019), Brussels IV Conference (22-30 June 2020), Brussels V Conference (29-30 March 2021), Brussels VI Conference (9-10 May 2022), and Brussels VII Conference (14 -15 June 2023).

The Brussels VII Conference raised a significant level of pledges (9.6 billion EUR for 2023 and beyond), showing the convening power of the EU and commitment of donors to the Syrian crisis.

Support in the aftermath of the 6 February 2023 earthquakes

In the aftermath of the devastating 6 February earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson, for the Swedish Presidency of the Council, co-hosted on 20 March 2023 the International Conference “Together for the people of Türkiye and Syria”. The total pledge of this conference amounts to € 911 million of grants for Syria. The Commission itself made available EUR 108 million for humanitarian and early recovery assistance for the people of Syria.

The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument

The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) is framing the EU’s cooperation in favour of the Syrian people for the period 2021-2027.

Since the EU formally suspended its cooperation with the Syrian regime in 2011, the logic of non-humanitarian programming inside Syria has been to support bottom-up and community-driven interventions at the local level with the objective to strengthen resilience of communities and build capacity for future recovery and return. A specific focus is also given to the fight against impunity. This support through NDICI is provided, as much as feasible, all over Syria and delivered through Syrian and international NGOs, United Nations agencies as well as EU Member State agencies, in complementarity to humanitarian aid. 

NEAR allocations from 2014 to 2023 for inside Syria through yearly Special Measures amount to € 430 million.

The EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis

The EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, also known as the Madad Fund, contributes to addressing the critical needs of 5.6 million Syrian refugees, their host communities and 6.7 million persons displaced in their own country (internally displaced people, IDPs).

Since its establishment in December 2014, the EUTF Syria - Madad mobilised EUR 2.38 billion, including contribution from 21 Member States, Türkiye and the United Kingdom: this funding allowed for 129 crucial projects in seven priority sectors such as basic and higher education, livelihoods, health, water and sanitation (WASH), protection and social cohesion.

The EUTF-funded actions are currently being delivered in three priority countries: Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Türkiye has also been the recipient of substantial funding, with minor interventions covering the Western Balkans, Armenia, Egypt and Syria. All projects are featured in a dedicated web platform: find it here. To carry out operations on ground, the EUTF Syria - Madad works with international organisations, EU Member States Agencies and development banks, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), partner governments and international financial institutions.

The EUTF Syria - Madad officially ended in December 2021, with projects running until June 2025. However, the EU response to the Syrian crisis is set to continue through the transition to the “Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument” (NDICI, also known as “Global Europe”).

Other financing instruments

ECHO is the main provider of assistance to Syria and has mobilised over € 1.4 billion of humanitarian assistance to the population affected by the Syrian crisis inside Syria since 2011.

For more information:

Further information

Factsheets available to download

Key documents

For specific information on programming documents and financing decisions (see below):