"The European Union (EU) is encouraging Egypt to play a greater role in combating irregular migration," well-informed European and Arab sources told the Anadolu Agency yesterday.
The sources said that "negotiations which aimed at concluding an agreement on combating migration issues and smugglers' activities have already begun between the two sides during the EU-Egypt Association Council meeting."
On 20 December, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Frederica Mogherini and the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry inaugurated the EU-Egypt Association Council in the Belgian capital of Brussels. The event was reported to have aimed at "reviewing the two states' bilateral relations and discussing the implementation of the EU-Egypt partnership priorities.
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The EU-Egypt talks, the sources noted, would "culminate" in the EU-Arab summit due to be held in Egypt in late February.
"For the first time, the EU called on Egypt to carry out coastal patrols beyond its territorial waters to combat smugglers and to rescue migrants and return them home," the sources pointed out.
Observers fear that the European agreement with Egypt would be at the expense of "Brussels' ignorance to human rights violations in Egypt."
The agency quoted a senior EU official as saying that there were "voices" within the organisation who worry of what he described as "Egypt's exaggeration in its demands in exchange for expanding its anti-migration patrols."