The Egyptian port city of Alexandria witnessed the celebration of Europe Week starting on 10 May in a sign of growing cooperation between Egypt and the European Union.
According to Ahmed Al-Wakeel, head of the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce in Alexandria and of the Federation of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce, the Mediterranean city is home to many European investments and represents Egypt’s gateway to Egyptian-European economic cooperation.
The EU and its member states are increasing their cooperation with Egypt and are supportive of bilateral, regional, and international projects implemented in Egypt in cooperation with various organisations, he said.
The total funding allocated to these organisations has exceeded 200 million euros, making the EU Egypt’s largest partner in terms of investment, trade, science and technology, training, learning and development.
Al-Wakeel said that the private sector is the main driver of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, accompanied by government cooperation to support innovation and promote investments in order to create job opportunities for young people and improve the business environment in the region.
“Thanks to Egypt’s partners in the EU, active platforms have been established linking cooperation between the Mediterranean countries in various fields and despite the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict,” he said.
Al-Wakeel said that the continuing turmoil in global supply chains meant that EU member states should now start relying on new partners to provide industrial inputs, with Egypt being “an excellent partner”.
“The EU has the advanced technology and technical skills, and we need innovative labour and better productive skills that ensure market growth supported by free-trade agreements and modern logistical links,” he added. “This means our cooperation can grow even bigger.”
Christian Berger, head of the European Union delegation to Egypt, said that the EU has allocated aid packages to countries affected by the food crisis and inflation caused by the war in Ukraine amounting to 225 million euros, with 100 million for Egypt.
He added that current bilateral cooperation was worth more than one billion euros in the form of grants, loans, and investments in all aspects of life in Egypt. “We hope that it will benefit people across the country in line with Egypt’s Vision 2030,” Berger said.
The Ministry of International Cooperation and the EU signed last week a number of development-financing agreements worth 138 million euros to support Egypt’s development efforts in various sectors, including the environment, health, rural and community development, and administrative reform.
During a press conference held at the French Consulate in Alexandria on the occasion of Europe Week, Berger stressed that Egypt is an important partner for the EU and praised the relations that have linked the two sides for 45 years.
“This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional Partnership and 45 years of bilateral relations between Egypt and the European Union,” he said.
Egypt has positioned itself as a global player in climate talks and is preparing to host important international events, including the 27th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), which will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh this November.
“We are strategic partners, and 2022 will witness more high-level visits along with new partnership priorities,” Berger said, stressing that EU member states and European institutions and banks are committed to working with the government and people of Egypt.
French Ambassador to Egypt Marc Baretti said that Egypt was one of the most important countries to have relations with the EU because of its place in Africa and the rest of the world.
France is currently holding the presidency of the EU, he said, and is seeking to create a model for economic growth that allows Europe to maintain its sovereignty and defend itself. He stressed the importance of Egypt as a main gateway to Africa and the support of the EU for its development and security efforts.
Berger and Baretti stressed the EU’s support for Egypt’s fight against terrorism, referring to the EU statement condemning the terrorist operation that took place in Sinai last week.
Berger added that the EU is working on diversifying energy sources instead of relying on Russian oil and gas, and it is looking for other sources including in Egypt.
He said that a new partnership agreement between Egypt and the EU for the next seven years would be announced soon and that this would include supporting Egypt to become an important hub for the export of energy to the Eastern Mediterranean and European countries.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 19 May, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.