EU and Egypt to Strike 7.4 Billion Euro Deal on Migration, Energy

Sun Mar 17 2024
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CAIRO: The European Union, which seeks to stem irregular migrant arrivals, and cash-strapped Egypt were Sunday due to sign a 7.4-billion-euro ($8 billion) package of loans, grants and energy cooperation agreements.

The deal, due to be finalized in Cairo, underscores the EU’s commitment to assisting Egypt, which finds itself grappling with financial strain amidst regional conflicts and an influx of migrants. Notably, the package includes provisions to bolster Egyptian energy imports, thereby reducing reliance on Russian gas, particularly in the wake of the Ukraine war.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, along with government leaders from Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy, is expected to seal the agreement with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The comprehensive package comprises five billion euros in loans spanning four years, 1.8 billion euros in investments, and substantial funds for bilateral projects, including initiatives on migration.

Egypt’s strategic importance in a volatile region has been highlighted, with the country bordering war-torn Libya and Sudan, beset by internal conflicts. Additionally, Egypt serves as a significant host for millions of migrants and refugees, mostly from Sudan and Syria.

EU-Egypt Cooperation on Security 

The agreement also entails cooperation on security, counter-terrorism, and border protection, particularly focusing on the southern border shared with Sudan. While discussions will touch upon the conflict in the Gaza Strip, the primary focus remains on broader regional stability and economic cooperation.

Critics, however, raise concerns over the perceived “cash-for-migration-control” approach, highlighting past controversies surrounding deals with authoritarian regimes. Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have voiced apprehensions regarding potential human rights violations, urging a more transparent and rights-centric approach to migration management.

Despite Egypt’s claims of halting migrant boat departures from its shores, the reality of migrant flows to Europe persists, mostly via neighboring countries like Libya and Tunisia. Egypt’s dire economic situation, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and regional instability, underscores the urgency of international assistance.

With Egypt’s external debt reaching alarming levels and economic challenges mounting, the 7.4 billion euro deal provides a lifeline for the populous nation. However, the efficacy of such financial aid in addressing deep-rooted economic issues remains subject to scrutiny, amidst ongoing regional turmoil and global economic uncertainties.

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