Oliv r V rhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement. File photo/European Parliament
Várhelyi attended on Sunday the opening ceremony of the fourth edition of Cairo Water Week (CWW) and held talks with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.
CWW 2021, which is being held from 24 to 28 October, will focus on the theme of ‘Water, Population, and Global Changes: Challenges and Opportunities’, with a wide array of ministers, official delegations, senior officials in the water sector, scientists, representatives of international organisations, and institutes and civil society organisations from different countries participating.
The annual event aims to spread awareness on water issues and promote innovation to face the most pressing water-related challenges.
In a speech delivered in the opening ceremony, Várhelyi said the EU’s investment plan under the new agenda for the Mediterranean includes up to €1 billion for Egypt until 2027 and €9 billion of additional investments that can be mobilised to the country as well.
This is part of the €7 billion the EU seeks to allocate from its budget to support the long-term socio-economic development and recovery within the Southern Neighbourhood in the coming 7 years, mobilising up to €30 billion in public and private investments in the region, Várhelyi said.
He said the European Union has provided €550 million in grants since 2007 to support the country against water challenges and has leveraged around €3 billion in funds to the sector.
“Our existing programmes funded together with European Financing Institutions extend to over 16 Egyptian governorates, provide nearly 20,000 permanent jobs and 600,000 short term job opportunities, mainly in rural areas,” Várhelyi said.
He added that these programmes will help improve the lives of about 18.5 million Egyptian people by 2024, representing almost 20 percent of the population.
In his meeting with President El-Sisi, Várhelyi expressed the EU’s hope to continue developing cooperation with Egypt on all levels in light of the joint interest in tackling the challenges facing the region, a presidential statement read.
He also hailed the Egyptian vision in achieving sustainable development in the country as well as Egypt’s efforts to combat terrorism, extremist thought, and irregular migration.
This is in addition to Egypt’s role in spreading tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and the acceptance of others, Várhelyi said, affirming that these issues come at the top of the EU’s priorities.
The president “expressed Egypt’s aspiration to develop future relations with the EU by fostering mutual understanding between the two sides based on the lessons learned from the incidents the region has witnessed over the past decade,” the statement added.
El-Sisi and Várhelyi discussed vital regional and international issues, especially regarding the settlement of the ongoing crises in the region, as well as the Palestinian cause developments.
They also agreed on intensifying coordination to combat terrorism, extremism, and irregular immigration.