Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

$10.9 billion partnership between the EU and Egypt | The migrant crisis< /p>Open in full screen mode

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, at the presidential palace in Cairo, in Egypt, Sunday

Agence France-Presse

The European Union on Sunday signed a “strategic partnership” for 10.9 billion Canadian dollars with Egypt, in the midst of economic crisis, particularly in the areas of energy and migration, causing concern among human rights defenders.

This agreement was signed at the end of the day in Cairo between the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, alongside five European heads of state and governments.

The European delegation in Egypt includes the Cypriot president, Nikos Christodoulides, and the Greek prime ministers Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Italian Giorgia Meloni, major partners of the #x27;Egypt in its gas fields in the Mediterranean.

Also present were the Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, and the Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen signed this agreement alongside five European heads of state and governments.

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The agreement includes $7.37 billion in loans, including $1.47 billion paid before the end of 2024, 2, 65 billion in investments, 590 million in aid for bilateral projects and nearly 300 million in aid for programs addressing migration issues, detailed a senior European Commission official under cover of anonymity.

With this agreement, we elevate the relationship between the European Union and Egypt to the status of a comprehensive strategic partnership, welcomed Ms. von der Leyen, ranging from trade to low-carbon energy to migration management.

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Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the Commission European Union, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt, during a diplomatic meeting this Sunday in Cairo

This influx of funds – which will last until the end of 2027 – is a breath of fresh air for Egypt, which is currently going through the worst economic crisis in its history.

It adds to the latest financial boosts received by Cairo: $47.38 billion injected by the United Arab Emirates, and an extension of $6.77 billion in additional loans from the International Monetary Fund .

Cairo devotes a good part of its resources to repaying its external debt, which has tripled in a decade to reach nearly 223.37 billion dollars.

Egypt relies in particular on its natural gas to obtain income in foreign currencies, and the EU wants to cooperate in particular to do without Russian gas even more, said a senior official of the European Commission.

All the leaders present also spoke in Cairo of the border conflicts: in Sudan, Libya and Gaza where Israel – at war against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas – has increases the pressure on Cairo by making progress on its plans to invade Rafah, on the outskirts of Egypt, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians are crowded together , displaced by war.

Egypt is a crucial country for Europe because it has an important position in a very difficult region, explained a senior official from the European Commission.

The European Union wants to cooperate with Egypt – 136th country out of 142 in the World Justice Project's global rule of law ranking – in security, counter-terrorism and border protection. /p>

The migration aspect of the agreement is of the same type as that signed in July with Tunisia: the Europeans are waiting for countries of origin or transit of migrants that they stop departures and readmit their nationals in an irregular situation in the European Union.

For the NGO Refugees Platform in Egypt, the European Union wants to subcontract to the countries of North Africa, in particular Egypt, […] the restriction of freedom of movement of migrants.

The pattern is the same as that of the shaky agreements of the #x27;European Union with Tunisia and Mauritania: stop migrants, ignore abuses.

A quote from the NGO Human Rights Watch

The NGO Human Rights Watch claims to have already recorded arbitrary arrests and mistreatment inflicted by the Egyptian authorities on migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as expulsions to countries plagued by violence.

Three months before the elections to the European Parliament where polls predict a surge of the far right, European leaders are keen to display their firmness on irregular immigration.

We must be partners to eliminate illegal migration, in particular by creating prospects and jobs for young people, declared the Belgian Prime Minister, whose country currently holds the European presidency, alongside European and Egyptian officials.

Egypt repeats that since 2016, no migrant boat has left its shores. Although boats no longer leave Egypt, Egyptians still arrive in Europe by sea, most of them from Libya or Tunisia to Italy.

Frontex, the European Border Agency, recorded in 2023 nearly 158,000 migrant arrivals in Europe via this route, the most dangerous in the world. An increase of 50% compared to 2022.

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