This policy paper provides a bottom-up analysis of the impact of the European Union’s (EU) crisis response policies in Iraq. It examines how the EU’s engagement in crisis response is received and perceived by different local actors throughout the conflict cycle. The EU’s engagement in Iraq is multifaceted and encapsulates, but is not limited to, the fields of reform; capacity building; rule of law; security sector reform; humanitarian assistance; and development aid. Furthermore, this study seeks to unpack whether the EU’s responses correspond to the needs of target groups, perceived as conflict-sensitive and geared to the needs of vulnerable groups. Although the findings indicate that general attitudes towards the EU are favourable, we suggest the following policy recommendations:
- The EU should place more emphasis on its image as a contributor in crisis response in Iraq. The data indicate that a significant number of participants were unaware of the EU’s efforts in this perspective. The EU should also increase awareness about its roles in the fields of security sector reform, rule of law and development aid. The results show that these sectors are less known than the others.
- The EU should do more in the areas of security sector reform, development aid and rule of law. Participants have shown inconclusive satisfaction levels about these sectors. With an increasingly weak rule of law, limited capacities and widespread insecurity, expectations of increased EU engagement in these sectors are evident.
- The EU should identify the causes behind the partial satisfaction with its assistance scheme in responding to the crisis In Iraq. A sizeable share of the respondents stated that the EU’s support had not improved their status in the crisis. This should warrant an investigation into the effectiveness of the EU’s contributions and programmes in various fields.
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About MERI: The Middle East Research Institute is Iraq’s leading policy-research institute and think tank. It is an independent, entirely grant-funded not-for-profit organisation, based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region. Its mission is to contribute to the process of nation-building, state-building and democratisation via engagement, research, analysis and policy debates.
MERI’s main objectives include promoting and developing human rights, good governance, the rule of law and social and economic prosperity. MERI conduct high impact, high quality research (including purpose-based field work) and has published extensively in areas of: human rights, government reform, international politics, national security, ISIS, refugees, IDPs, minority rights (Christians, Yezidis, Turkmen, Shabaks, Sabi mandeans), Baghdad-Erbil relations, Hashd Al-Shabi, Peshmarga, violence against women, civil society. MERI engages policy- and decision-makers, the civil society and general public via publication, focused group discussions and conferences (MERI Forum).