|A. Al-Saadi/AFP/G. Image|
A regional conflict over Iraq would have disastrous consequences for European security. In recent years Iraq has topped the list of countries of origin for asylum requests within the EU, straining the capacity of member states to manage such
an influx. For a Europe short of reliable energy partners, Iraq presents a significant opportunity to ease the strain on supply, possessing the third largest oil reserves in the world and a largely unfulfilled potential as a major gas exporter.
The acrimonious dispute in 2003 over the invasion of Iraq brought the prospect of a coherent EU foreign policy into question. The time has now come to move on. A strengthened EU role in Iraq would send a clear signal of European capabilities
The EU’s current strategy on Iraq dates from 2004 and urgently needs to be replaced to reflect changed circumstances. This paper by Edward Burke argues that the EU should respond favourably to requests from the government in Baghdad for a technical assistance mission to be dispatched to Iraq and lists a series of recommendations on how the EU can improve its bi-lateral relations. The author concludes that the EU’s institutional capacity to assist reform in Iraq is precisely what is required to win a viable peace for Iraq following the tentative “truce” that emerged between the main factions in 2008.