The European Commission and the high representative announced the adoption of a new agenda for the Mediterranean region, including Egypt, the European delegation in Egypt said on Wednesday.
The European Union (EU) in Brussels said the agenda is meant to boost the strategic partnership between the EU and the Mediterranean, according to the EU statement.
“The new agenda is based on the conviction that by working together and in a spirit of partnership, common challenges can be turned into opportunities, in the mutual interest of the EU and its Southern Neighbours,” said the EU.
The agenda includes an economic and investment plan that targets boosting the long-term socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in the southern neighbourhood, read the statement.
Under the new EU's Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), up to €7 billion for the period 2021 to 2027 will be allocated to its implementation, which can mobilise around €30 billion in private and public investments in the region over the next decade.
“This communication sends a crucial message about the importance we attach to our Southern Neighbourhood. A strengthened Mediterranean partnership remains a strategic imperative for the European Union. 25 years after the Barcelona Declaration and 10 years after the Arab Spring, challenges in the Mediterranean – many of which resulting from global trends – remain daunting,”, said EU High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell.
“To address these challenges, we need to renew our mutual efforts and act closely together as partners, in the interest of all of us. This is what this new agenda is all about. We are determined to work together with our Southern Partners on a new agenda that will focus on people, especially women and youth, and help them meet their hopes for the future, enjoy their rights and build a peaceful, secure, more democratic, greener, prosperous and inclusive Southern Neighbourhood,” Borrell explained.
The Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said that the renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood presents a new beginning in EU’s relations with its southern partners.
“Based on common interests and common challenges, developed together with our neighbours... Europe wants to contribute directly to a long-term vision of prosperity and stability of the region, especially in the social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. In close dialogue with our partners, we have identified a number of priority sectors, from creating growth and jobs, investing in human capital, and good governance. We consider migration to be a common challenge, where we are ready to work to fight irregular migration and smugglers together with our partners as it is a risk for all of us. We will work together to bring real change on the ground for the benefit of both our neighbours and Europe,” according to Várhelyi.
The EU said that the new agenda focuses on five policy areas, including human development, good governance and the rule of law, resilience, prosperity, and digital transition.
It also includes providing support to countries to address security challenges and find solutions to ongoing conflicts, in addition to addressing the challenges of forced displacement and irregular migration, and facilitating safe and legal pathways for migration and mobility.
The agenda concentrates on green transition as well as introducing an economic investment plan for the Southern Neighbours to ensure the quality of life for people in the region improves and economic recovery is realised.
The plan includes preliminary flagship initiatives to strengthen resilience, build prosperity and increase trade and investment to support competitiveness and inclusive growth.
The EU provided support to Egypt mainly through the European Neighbourhood Instrument with €756 million in the period from 2014 to 2020.
Since 2008, Egypt has been a beneficiary of the Neighbourhood Investment Platform which leveraged €7 billion in concessional loans from European Financial Institutions combined with public and private sector financing for projects in the sector of renewable energy, energy efficiency, irrigation, water and wastewater management, transport, financial inclusion, support to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and education, according to the EU.
Moreover, projects under the North of Africa window of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF Africa) in Egypt amount to €89 million, stated the EU.
In addition, Egypt benefits from EU thematic programmes and instruments, including the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, the Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities programme under the Development Cooperation Instrument, the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) and Horizon 2020.