Classified By: USEU POL MINCOUNS KYLE SCOTT; REASON 1.4 (B,D)
1. (C) Commission officials told A/S Burns that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with Syria will only go into effect after signature and ratification in all 25 member states. Commission argues that initialing the agreement provides additional leverage over Syria, which must demonstrate good behavior if it hopes to gain ratification. A/S Burns replied that Syria is likely to misinterpret the decision to initial the agreement, and that Damascus will try to do the bare minimum to implement it.
2. (C) In consultations with A/S Burns on October 22, Christian Leffler, Director for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Commission outlined next steps following initialing of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with Syria. Commission will now put the agreement forward to the European Council recommending signature. Once signed, the agreement must be ratified by parliaments in all 25 member states, plus the European Parliament. This will be a time-consuming process, Leffler noted, as the agreement can only be signed after it has been translated into all official languages of the EU. Comprising hundreds of pages, the process of translating this into 22 languages will be lengthy. He suggested that signature is unlikely before the first months of 2005.
3. (C) Leffler said the Commission considered initialing the agreement to be the best way to maximize the EU's leverage with Syria. By having an agreement "there for the taking," the EU can now argue to Syria that if it wants to gain the advantages of the trade and aid package, it must do better in its performance, or the agreement will never be signed and ratified by the member states.
4. (C) A/S Burns thanked Leffler for this explanation, but said the EU should not be surprised if the US is not supportive of the decision to initial the agreement. He suggested the Syrians are likely to misread the meaning of the EU decision. The US urges the EU to continue to do everything possible to maximize its leverage with Syria, and to keep pressure on them to fully implement UNSC resolution
1559. He cautioned, however, that we would expect Damascus to try to get away with the minimum possible in implementing its obligations.