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IP/08/1854

Brussels, 2 December 2008

EU and Egypt sign agreement on Energy

The European Commission and the Arab Republic of Egypt will sign today in Brussels a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance EU-Egypt energy cooperation. The areas covered by the Memorandum are, among others, energy market reforms and convergence of Egypt’s energy market with that of the EU, promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, development of energy networks as well as technological and industrial cooperation. The Memorandum will be signed by Commissioners for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and Energy, Andris Piebalgs, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: "Egypt is a strategic energy partner for the EU. The Memorandum that we are signing today will upgrade our cooperation in the sector recognising Egypt's role as the sixth largest natural gas supplier to the EU and a key transit country between the Middle East, Africa and the EU. We share the same energy concerns and opportunities - diversification and security of energy supplies, transport and markets, market reforms, development and modernisation of energy infrastructure, improving energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources. It is therefore natural that we should reinforce our cooperation to better address these challenges. Today's agreement is another significant step forward". She added: "Egypt’s commitment to energy reforms is crucial for the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean energy market."

Andris Piebalgs said: "The European Union is developing an integrated energy policy for coping with energy sustainability and climate change. The Memorandum that the European Commission has signed today is one element of fulfilling Europe's intentions to strengthen relations in external energy, just as it is expressed in the Strategic Energy Review." The Energy Commissioner went on to say that climate change, the price volatility in oil and gas and the general availability of conventional energy calls for more international cooperation. He added that in recent years the EU has significantly strengthened its energy relations with Egypt, as well as broadly in the region. He pointed to the fact that the EU works with Egypt in the field of natural gas, regional electricity interconnections and market integration. The Commissioner also reminded that earlier this year a Regional Centre for Excellence in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency was inaugurated in Cairo.

The Memorandum of Understanding identifies five priorities for cooperation:

  • development of comprehensive Egyptian energy strategy, including institutional capacity building and energy market reform;
  • establishment of a work programme for a gradual convergence of Egypt’s energy markets with the EU;
  • elaboration of a comprehensive policy and relevant projects in the field of energy demand management, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources;
  • development of energy networks aimed at improving the energy security in the EU and Egypt; and
  • enhancement of technological, scientific and industrial cooperation.

Egypt is a significant oil producer and an emerging supplier of gas in the Mediterranean region. In this context, Commissioners Ferrero-Waldner and Piebalgs promoted the finalisation of the Arab Gas Pipeline during the Energy Ministerial that took place on 5th May 2008 in Brussels. The Pipeline, which is being supported through the Euro-Arab Gas Market Centre, could transport Egyptian and possibly Iraqi natural gas resources to European countries.

Egypt also plays an important role in exports of liquidised natural gas and global oil transport via the Suez Canal, and is currently engaged in the development of regional gas and electricity networks. Egypt has considerable potential for the development of renewable energy sources, particularly wind and solar, and is actively participating in EU-Mediterranean energy cooperation.

The signature of the Memorandum of Understanding and a short press point with the two Commissioners and Minister Aboul Gheit will take place in the Berlaymont VIP Corner on 2 December at 16h00.

For more information on EU bilateral relations with Egypt see the following link:

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/egypt/index_en.htm

For more information on EU-Mediterranean energy co-operation see

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/euromed/index_en.htm

For more information on the Second Strategic Energy Review - Securing our Energy Future, published by the European Commission on 13 November 2008 see

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/strategies/2008/2008_11_ser2_en.htm

See also MEMO/08/755 Energy cooperation in the Mediterranean – What's the Commission doing? – Focus on Egypt, 2 December 2008.


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