EU praises Egyptian elections; voices concern over NGO trials
Ahram Online, Monday 27 Feb 2012
The European Union Council praises Egypt's transition to democracy but is concerned about restrictions on civil society

The European Union's Council has released a statement praising Egypt’s transition to democracy but expressing concern about the legal proceedings against NGO staff, some of whom are European Union citizens.

"The EU reiterates its deep concern with regard to restrictions on civil society organisations in Egypt," the statement said.

"While fully respecting the independence of the judicial system in Egypt, the EU intends to monitor closely the ongoing legal proceedings against NGO staff and underlines expectations regarding due process."

The Council also voiced concern over Egypt’s deteriorating economic situation in light of recent instability and encouraged Egypt to conduct the necessary social and economic reforms needed to remedy the situation with "effective use of available international assistance."

The Council stressed that it welcomes the way elections to both houses of parliament, the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council, were conducted and said that it supports the transition towards a "democratic, pluralist and stable Egypt."

Additionally, the statement said that the EU is looking forward to the appointment of the Constitutional Committee which will be tasked with drafting Egypt’s first post-Mubarak constitution, stressing that the new constitution needs to reflect a democratic Egypt that respects human rights and the important role of women.

The Council also stressed the importance of transferring power from the ruling military council to a civil authority in the near future and the necessity of putting a timetable for the upcoming presidential elections.

"The EU reiterates its offer of electoral support. In the meantime, the interim authorities should ensure the protection of civilians in full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms and ensure early completion of investigations into recent violence, including against religious communities, as well as adequate follow-up of the recommendations following from these investigations," the statement said.

The Council revealed that they have outlined an agenda of available assistance to Egypt, including "financial support, further integration of markets and launching of a dialogue on migration, mobility and security."