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European aid to Egypt to be in 'billions of dollars': EU representative

Ahead of scheduled meeting of EU-Egypt taskforce, EU representative tells state media that European assistance to Egypt will amount to 'billions' of dollars

Ahram Online, Tuesday 13 Nov 2012
Bernardino Leon
Bernardino Leon (Photo: Reuters)
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The financing package that the European Union will offer Egypt is expected to amount to "billions of dollars," larger than aid packages offered by any other international organisations or countries, EU special representative for the Southern Mediterranean region told Egyptian state news agency MENA on Tuesday.

Bernardino León is currently in Cairo to attend a scheduled meeting of the EU-Egypt taskforce on 13 and 14 November, at which EU officials will discuss possible financial support for post-revolution Egypt.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is scheduled to attend the meeting, which he called for during a September visit to Brussels.

León, however, declined to reveal the exact amount of financing earmarked for Egypt, saying that the figure would be announced following Wednesday's taskforce meeting.

The EU help will come in the form of grants and loans, León explained.

"The EU will not give Egypt empty promises…but funds will not be disbursed instantaneously; many deals will have to be signed first," he said.

Last September, following Morsi's meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, the EU offered Egypt economic aid of up to 700 million euros (some $902 million).

That aid, however, was said to be conditional on the country's reaching agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Egypt is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the fund for a $4.5 billion loan by the end of this week.

León also stressed the need for the Egyptian government to determine its particular needs and priorities, saying he had not simply come to Cairo with "a suitcase full of money."

As for the sectors into which the EU plans to inject its promised financial aid, León mentioned the fields of food security, infrastructure and technology transfer.

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