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Egypt, EU to level up relations to ‘strategic partnership’

March 17, 2024 at 4:10 pm

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi meets EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen in Cairo, Egypt on March 17, 2023. [Egyptian Presidency / Handout – Anadolu Agency]

Egypt and the European Union (EU) signed a joint declaration yesterday to elevate their relationship to a “strategic and comprehensive partnership”, Anadolu agency reported.

The declaration was signed in Cairo by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a summit between the two sides in Cairo, according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

“The European Union acknowledges Egypt as a reliable partner, as well as Egypt’s unique and vital geo-strategic role as a pillar of security, moderation and peace in the region of the Mediterranean, the Near East and Africa,” the European Commission said in a statement.

The partnership between Egypt and the EU covers six common fields: political relations, economic stability, trade and investment, migration management, security and skills development.

Yesterday’s summit comes amid reports that the EU will provide Egypt with a funding package of €7.4 billion ($8.06 billion) from 2024-2027 to help stabilise its economy.

Egypt has been under economic pressure due to the ongoing Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, which impacted the country’s revenues from tourism and shipping through the Suez Canal.

A number of civil society organisations wrote to the EU head last week and called on her to “take all necessary measures to ensure that human rights, social and environmental sustainability, and equity are mainstreamed in the EU-Egypt bilateral agreement.”

“Our concerns regarding the content and scope of this partnership – based on the one the EU signed with Tunisia in 2023 – stem from Egypt’s  appalling human rights record, including in areas, such as border control and migration management, which the deal covers,” they added.

The 23 rights organisations, which include the  Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF), EuroMed Rights, Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and Sinai Foundation for Human Rights, among others, said: “There is growing evidence that the EU’s hunger for fuels such as LNG, on the one hand, and its push for outsourcing the control of its external borders to neighbouring countries, on the other, are at the root of far-reaching processes of fragilization of communities and ecosystems across North Africa and beyond.”

READ: European leaders set to visit Cairo amid growing concerns over Egypt’s stability