This document deals with the bilateral aspects of a Syro-European partnership, which will eventually be enshrined in a partnership agreement. Negotiations between Syria and the European Union began in 1998 and accelerated in 2000 after the change of direction in Damascus. Syria`s new leadership led by President Bashar al-Assad had acknowledged that European support, as part of an association agreement, could well help the country enter globalisation in a more favourable way. However, to successfully cope with globalization, Syria will face serious socio-economic challenges. European support can and must be aimed at enabling Syria to respond to these challenges. The document makes several proposals on how to proceed, explains what Syria considers an interest in an association agreement with the EU and outlines the different positions that influence the political debate within Syria on this subject. The « Association Agreement », which is now before the Council and subsequently ratified by the parliaments of the Member States, complements the EU`s network of Association Agreements with all partners identified under the Barcelona Process. Similar agreements have already been signed with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia. The Syrian agreement had been suspended due to a clause on weapons of mass destruction (MVW). The agreement covers three areas. In the political chapter, the agreement provides a framework for regular dialogue and contains provisions on weapons of mass destruction and the fight against terrorism.
In the economic chapter, the document provides for the creation of a free trade area between the EU and Syria by 2010. The agreement also covers cooperation on social and cultural issues. The agreement is reached with the US administration, which plans to tighten economic sanctions against Syria in order to put pressure on Damascus, withdraw its troops from Lebanon and fight terrorism. In 1977, the EU and Syria signed a cooperation agreement that governs relations and will serve as a basis for EU relations.  Other bilateral agreements were concluded between the EU and Syria in 2004 and 2008.  Syria has also joined the Union for the Mediterranean (previously the Barcelona Process) and the European Neighbourhood Policy, but it does not take full advantage of them until the application of the EU-Syria Association Agreement signed in 2009 and the Union for the Mediterranean in 2011.   Israel had called the agreement « damage » before it was signed. . . .