Brussels, 18 July 2005 - Just four weeks before the new Iraqi Constitution is due to be completed, international donors are meeting in Jordan 18th and 19th July to discuss Iraqi reconstruction priorities, project implementation and new funding. The European Commission will attend the meeting to outline its continuing support for the political and economic reconstruction of the country, in particular a €20 million package to support the preparation of the new Constitution. The Commission's €200 million allocation for 2005 also covers support for basic services in the areas of basic education, health services and employment generation, technical assistance to the Ministries of Energy and Transport and further assistance in the fields of democracy and human rights. To date, the Commission's total contribution to the Iraqi reconstruction process amounts to more than half a billion euro.
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said on the eve of the meeting: "It's crucial that preparations for the new Constitution should be transparent and inclusive, the EU package is designed to reach out to all communities. In addition, funding will be available to support not only the constitutional process but also preparations for the referendum that will follow."
The European Commission is providing €20 million in support of the Iraqi constitutional process. The funds will be channelled via the United Nations, which, with Iraq, is coordinating the international support for the Constitution. The Commission will fund activities in the following areas:
Provision of European experts to work with the Constitutional Committee of the Iraqi Transitional National Assembly and with other institutions and actors in Iraq
Media and Public Information
Civic education and promotion of public debate, and participation in the referendum
The timetable for finalising the drafting process is laid down in the Transitional Administrative Law and the UN Security Council Resolution 1546 which stipulates that the text of the Constitutional should be written by 15 August, then be put for a popular referendum by 15 October and be the basis for a new round of elections by 15 December. The European Commission is prepared to provide support to these elections, if the Iraqis so wish.
The donor meeting in Jordan is the first concrete follow-up to the Iraq International Conference co-hosted by the EU and the US in Brussels last month. The aim is to enhance Iraqi ownership of the reconstruction process, improve delivery of aid pledged and enhance cooperation between donors and the Iraqi Transitional Government.
For more information:
The EU's relations with Iraq: http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/iraq/intro/index.htm