EU Approves €7.4 Billion in Aid for Egypt With Migration in Mind 

EU Approves €7.4 Billion in Aid for Egypt With Migration in Mind

EU Approves €7.4 Billion in Aid for Egypt With Migration in Mind (Source: depositphotos)

 The European Union has agreed to a €7.4 Billion aid package for cash-strapped Egypt amid concerns that economic pressures and conflict in neighbouring countries could lead to more migrants entering Europe’s ports. Concerns are growing. 

The agreement, which garnered criticism from rights groups for Egypt’s human rights record, was signed Sunday afternoon in Cairo by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and leaders from Belgium, Italy, Austria, Cyprus, and Greece. El-Sissi held separate meetings with von der Leyen and other European leaders on Sunday afternoon before the signing ceremony. 

According to the EU delegation in Cairo, the aid package for the Arab world’s most populous country will consist of both grants and loans over the next three years. According to a document from the EU mission in Egypt, the majority of the funding (€5 billion) is for macro-financial assistance. 

EU-Egypt Partnership Upgraded 

As per the mission’s report, both Egypt and the EU have advanced their cooperation to the extent of a “strategic and comprehensive partnership. This has opened up avenues for further expansion of their cooperation in both economic and noneconomic domains. 

El-Sissi’s office said in a statement that the agreement aims to achieve shared objectives and is a significant step forward in collaboration and coordination between the two parties. According to the European Commission, the deal, which is also known as the Joint Declaration, seeks to further “democracy, fundamental freedoms, human rights, and gender equality,” among other things. Additionally, both parties will intensify their collaboration to tackle issues about migration and terrorism. 

The EU will support the Egyptian government in strengthening its borders, particularly with Libya, which serves as a significant hub for migrants escaping poverty and violence in Africa and the Middle East. The government of Sudan, which has been forced to flee almost a year of conflict between opposing generals, will have the backing of the 27-nation bloc. Since April of last year, Egypt has taken in around 460,000 Sudanese. 

The agreement was made amid mounting worries that hundreds of thousands of people would be forced to enter Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as a result of Israel’s impending ground onslaught on Gaza’s southernmost town, Rafah. Over a million people have been forced to Rafah by the Israel-Hamas conflict, which is currently in its sixth month. 

Egypt’s Millions of Migrants Contribute to Economy Despite Informal Roles 

Nine million people are said to be migrants in Egypt, of which roughly 480,000 are officially registered as refugees or asylum seekers with the UN organisation. While many of those migrants have formed their own companies, others are employed as house cleaners and street vendors in the vast informal sector. 

The agreement would provide much-needed financial support to Egypt’s economy, which has been severely impacted by years of strict government policy, the coronavirus outbreak, the consequences of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and most recently, the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. 

After protracted negotiations, Egypt and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a major financial agency of the United Nations, agreed earlier this month to expand the rescue financing. Along with the agreement with the IMF, there were economic changes implemented, such as the Egyptian pound’s floatation and a significant increase in the main interest rate. 

EU Follows Migration Control Strategy  

The EU agreement is modelled after recent agreements with Mauritania and Tunisia, which promised financial support in exchange for border fortifications. Both Mauritania and Tunisia were heavily criticised for their mistreatment of migrants, even though they served as important entry points for those travelling across the Atlantic to reach Spain and the Mediterranean to reach Italy. 

International rights organisations criticised the package due to Egypt’s track record on human rights. European leaders were encouraged by Amnesty International to refrain from supporting the breaches of human rights occurring in Egypt. 

Eve Geddie, head of Amnesty International (an international non-governmental organisation based in the UK) of the European Institutions office, stated that the EU leaders need to make sure Egypt’s government implement unambiguous human rights standards. She also drew attention to Egypt’s limitations on free speech and the media, as well as its persecution of civil society. 

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