Council conclusions on Iraq - 2674th General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting - Brussels, 18 Jul 2005

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

"1. The Council welcomed the Iraq International Conference, held in Brussels on 22 June and cohosted by the EU and the US. It congratulated the Luxembourg Presidency on the success and smooth running of the Conference. The Council reaffirmed its strong support for the Iraqi Transitional Government (ITG) and for the priorities set out by Iraqi Prime Minister Ja'afari, Foreign Minister Zebari, Speaker of the Transitional National Assembly al Hassani and other Iraqi Ministers at the Conference. It underlined its commitment to ensure an effective followup.

2. The Council welcomed the support offered by all delegations to the Iraqi people and ITG at the Conference. In particular, it welcomed their support for Iraq's continuing political transition based on UNSCR 1546, including drafting a Constitution, holding a referendum and elections for a constitutionally elected government by the end of this year. The Council recalled its commitment to the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Iraq. The Council underlined the importance all delegations attached to an inclusive and transparent political process. All sections of Iraqi society should be fully involved in the constitutional process and in promoting genuine national dialogue and reconciliation. The Council called on the states of the region to co-operate with Iraq to prevent cross-border transit and support for terrorists, to strengthen good neighbourly relations, to improve regional security and to give their full support to Iraq's political process.

3. In its efforts to follow a comprehensive approach in the support of reconstruction in Iraq, the Council took note of the areas that required priority action that were stressed by the ITG at the Conference. It noted the need for increased capacity building across the Iraqi administration, for further assistance on security, rule of law, infrastructure, energy and economic issues, as well as debt reduction. In this context, it welcomed the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq meeting in Jordan on 18-19 July and urged donors to expedite the disbursement of earlier pledges and to increase their support wherever possible. The Council recalled the ongoing support provided by the Commission and Member States to the Constitution drafting process and referendum, December elections and the provision of essential services, including in the area of education and health services, increasing employment opportunities and developing administrative capacity in accordance with Iraqi needs and priorities. The Council reconfirmed its support to the work of UNAMI. The Council also welcomed the ITG's decision to establish a donor co-ordination mechanism in Baghdad, with the support of the UN, and underlined the importance of this becoming operational quickly.

4. The Council reiterated its firmest condemnation of the terrorist acts, murders and hostagetakings which have been committed in Iraq. The Council deplored the fact that the campaign of terrorist violence in Iraq is prolonging the suffering of the Iraqi people and hampering political progress and reconstruction in Iraq.

5. The Council welcomed the launch of the EU's Rule of Law mission for Iraq (EU JUST LEX) and the Commission's commitment to begin preparations on complementary work in this field. Noting the needs set out by Iraq, particularly in the rule of law and human rights sectors, the Council invited relevant Council bodies to consider what further follow-up action the EU could take to help Iraq address these needs.

6. Following the Ministerial Troika visit to Baghdad on 9 June, the Council recalled its commitment to continue efforts to deepen relations between the EU and Iraq with the aim of establishing a regular political dialogue. In this context and recalling the Commission Communication entitled "The European Union and Iraq - A Framework for Engagement" approved by the European Council in June 2004, the Council considered that political dialogue, to cover areas of mutual interest and concern, should be taken forward through a joint political declaration. It invited relevant Council bodies to prepare this, with a view to issuing the declaration at the EU-Iraq Ministerial Troika in the margins of UNGA Ministerial week. The Council considered that a follow-up Troika visit to Baghdad at Political Director level could hold a round of dialogue in the autumn.

7. The Council welcomed the Commission's intention to open a delegation in Baghdad in the near future. It also welcomed the Commission's readiness to establish contractual trade and cooperation relations with Iraq and to work with the ITG on focused assistance programmes aimed at developing the conditions for such an agreement."