(Source: Council of the EU and European Council)
The ninth meeting of the Association Council of the European Union and Egypt took place in Luxembourg on 19 June 2022. The event confirmed the robust and multifaceted partnership between the two parties.
The Association Council adopted new Partnership Priorities to guide the relationship until 2027, in line with the new EU Agenda for the Mediterranean and its Economic and Investment Plan and Egypt’s Sustainable Development Strategy Vision 2030. Guided by the Partnership Priorities, the EU and Egypt will further deepen their dialogue and their cooperation around three overarching priorities: (i) Sustainable Modern Economy and Social Development; (ii) Partnering in Foreign Policy, and (iii) Enhancing Stability.
Both parties confirmed the great importance they attach to their relationship and underlined the strategic nature and potential of the partnership.
The EU communicated that the Multi-Annual Indicative Program (MIP) 2021-2027 has also been approved. Under this MIP a first tranche of €240 M will be made available for the period 2021-2024 to support Egypt in the areas of green and sustainable development; human development, economic resilience and prosperity building through green and digital transition; and social cohesion, modern and democratic state in accordance with the priorities identified in the Partnership Priorities. This will allow the EU and Egypt to cooperate closely on long-term sustainable socio-economic recovery and accelerate the transition to a green and circular economy. The MIP will also support the implementation of the flagship initiatives of the Economic and Investment Plan of the New Agenda for the Mediterranean.
The EU and Egypt are important trading partners. The two sides will work together to enhance bilateral trade relations, investments and Egypt’s further integration into regional and global value chains.
The EU and Egypt will work together to enhance the competitiveness of the economy and support the development of the private sector, in both urban and rural settings. Particular attention will be paid to the promotion of women empowerment and the role of women and youth in society and the economy. Employment opportunities will be enhanced through continued support to the education system.
Cooperation will also focus on the improvement in the delivery of basic health services by modernising the health care systems.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to work together on climate change mitigation and adaptation, including the sustainable management of resources, with particular emphasis on the management of water, the development of sustainable agriculture, and expanding public transport networks. The diversification of energy sources and the green energy transition, including the expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency actions will be a central element in these efforts. Both sides also indicated their intention to work on other crucial areas such as biodiversity conservation, combating desertification and land degradation, and disaster risk reduction.The EU signaled its support to the work of the Egyptian COP27 Presidency so as to ensure the success of the COP including an outcome which will deliver greater global ambition.
The EU and Egypt confirmed the importance of cooperation in research and innovation in sectors such as energy, water, agro-food and health as well as in advancing digital technologies.
Egypt and the EU remains committed to promoting democracy, fundamental freedoms and human rights, gender equality and equal opportunities as constitutional rights of all their citizens, in line with their international obligations. In this regard, both sides agreed to deepening their political dialogue on human rights. The EU and Egypt agree that civil society and the private sector are important and potent contributors to the implementation of their partnership priorities and can support the sustainable development process underway in Egypt.
Combating terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism represents a common goal of the EU and Egypt enshrined in the Partnership Priorities. Both sides welcomed their upcoming co-chairmanship of Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) starting in March 2023 and reiterated their commitment to address the root causes of terrorism with full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, in order to successfully counter and prevent radicalisation and foster socio-economic development. The EU and Egypt remain committed to cooperating in fighting violent extremism conducive to terrorism and any form of discrimination, including Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia.
The EU and Egypt underlined the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to migration governance which entails creating regular migration pathways, tackling the root causes of irregular migration, combating migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons, ensuring dignified and sustainable return and reintegration. The EU and Egypt are committed to the protection of the rights of migrants and refugees.
On regional and global matters, the EU and Egypt underlined that peace, security and a multilateral, rules-based order lie at the heart of their longstanding partnership. Recalling United Nations General Assembly resolutions ES-11/1 and ES-11/2 on Ukraine, which they both voted in favour of, they reaffirm their shared principles in line with the UN Charter of respect for international law, territorial integrity and national sovereignty, and the need to refrain from the use of force, respect international humanitarian law and solve conflicts by peaceful means as the basis for international cooperation. They condemned all violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights in conflict areas, and called for strict respect for international humanitarian law.
The EU and Egypt expressed concern about the impact of the war on increased food insecurity globally, as well as on global supply chains and energy and commodity price hikes. The EU will support Egypt’s efforts to enhance its cereal production and storage facilities with €100 million from the regional “Food and Resilience Facility” to provide partial assistance to meet the consequences of rising prices of food and commodities.
Given the strategic orientation of the partnership, the EU and Egypt are committed to reinforcing cooperation in foreign policy at the bilateral, regional and international organisations levels, notably in the UN and multilateral fora, including the Union for the Mediterranean, the League of Arab States (LAS) and the African Union. In this context, the EU and Egypt exchanged views inter alia on the Middle East Peace Process, Libya, Syria, Horn of Africa and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
The EU recognizes the pivotal role played by Egypt in supporting peace and security in the Middle East and Africa. The EU and Egypt reiterated that the only path to a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the two-state solution that ends occupation and leads to the establishment, of an independent, contiguous, sovereign and viable Palestinian State, on the lines of 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with the State of Israel in peace, in accordance with international law and UN Security Council resolutions. They warned of the danger inherent in the absence of a political horizon to end the conflict and emphasized the necessity of relaunching serious and meaningful negotiations to achieve the two-state solution and restore confidence in the Middle East peace process. They condemned the construction and expansion of settlements, confiscation of land and forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes, as illegal measures under international law, that undermine the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for peace.
The EU also welcomes the efforts exerted by Egypt towards becoming an energy hub in the region with focus on renewable energy, ongoing cooperation in the framework of the EMGF, and the implementation of mutually beneficial energy projects, including interconnection projects between Egypt and the EU.
In light of the significance of the Nile as the only source of water resources and livelihood for Egypt in a context of its unique water scarcity, the EU and Egypt welcomed the UN Security Council Presidential Statement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issued on 15 September 2021 regarding reaching a mutually acceptable and binding agreement on the filling and operations of the GERD. Reaching such an agreement as soon as possible is a top priority for the EU and Egypt in order to protect Egypt’s water security and promote peace and stability in the wider region. The EU stands ready to support African Union-led talks and to play a more active role, if useful and desirable to all parties, by putting forward its rich experience in the management of shared water resources in line with international law. With political will and support from the international community, this dispute could be turned into an opportunity for many people. Millions of people who live in the Nile Basin stand to benefit from an agreement on the GERD which would create predictability, and open the door for foreign investments in energy, food security and water security.
The meeting was co-chaired by Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, and by Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Foreign Minister, in the presence of Oliver Varhelyi, the Commissioner of European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, as well as the EU Member State Foreign Ministers Ioannis Kasoulides from Cyprus and Nikos Dendias from Greece and Daniela Grigore Gîtman, Secretary of State for European Affairs from Romania.