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Brussels, 12 February 2009

Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner announces assistance of €149 million to Egypt for education, transport and public services and civil society programmes

The European Commission is now making available a package worth €149 million to Egypt within the 2008 Annual Action Programme under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner made the announcement in the presence of the Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Prof. Dr. Hatem El-Gabaly on the occasion of his visit to Brussels. The focus of the programmes financed under this package will be on education, reforms in the transport sector, improvement of the water and waste water services and support for civil society.

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner underlined: “This financial package clearly underscores the Commission's strong support for Egypt’s social, political and economic reform agenda. I am very pleased to have discussed today with Minister El-Gabaly the progress of reforms in the Egyptian Health Sector which we have been supporting for many years. We are now preparing a new programme for 2009, including €110 million to support the Government’s primary health care reforms."

Referring to today's meeting the Commissioner added: "We have also discussed the difficult situation in Gaza. I welcomed the swift action taken by Egypt to help the injured from the recent hostilities, as well as their efficiency in helping to coordinate the international humanitarian effort. At the same time I express again my full support for the valuable Egyptian efforts to achieve inner-Palestinian reconciliation. I am looking forward to the conference on Gaza which Egypt has taken the initiative to host in Cairo on 2 March."

Under the announced package of assistance, the Commission will provide €80 million to support reforms in the Transport Sector covering administrative, regulatory and legal issues in the land, rail and inland waterway sectors. The overall aim of the reforms is to improve access and quality of transport.

In addition, €20 million will be provided to reinforce the EC's ongoing €120 million Education Sector support programme. Education reform is a key element of the Egyptian Government's reform agenda which is supported by several donors. The overall aim is to improve the quality and access to education, particularly to disadvantaged children, while improving cost effectiveness and financial sustainability.

Furthermore, the 2008 package includes €29 million to Improve Water and Waste Water Services. These funds will be combined with other European donors (KfW, EIB and AFD) and those of the Egyptian government for a total project value of €295 million. The project will improve water quality and output as well as wastewater services in several governorates, directly benefitting over 4 million people.

Finally, €17 million will be focused on civil and political rights, women and child rights and environmental rights, supporting both Government of Egypt institutions and civil society organizations. €3 million is also provided to support the Egyptian government's efforts to improve good governance in public administration. In addition to the €149 million, €15 million has been made available under the Neighbourhood Investment Facility to support multi-donor projects in the solar energy and water sectors.

Concerning EC support to the health sector a third programme is currently being prepared. It will build upon an earlier programme implemented in five governorates. The previous programme ran until 2007 and provided training, equipment, x-ray machines, laboratory equipment and construction of health facilities in rural areas. In complement an ongoing programme worth €88 million is supporting the rolling-out of an Integrated Health System, centred on the Family Health Model.

EU–Egypt relations: basic facts

The EU-Egypt Association Agreement entered into force in June 2004 and provides the framework for the political, economic and social dimensions of the EU-Egypt partnership, having as its main goal the creation of a free trade area over a period of twelve years and the increase of economic growth.

The ENP Action Plan, adopted in March 2007, identifies reform priorities within Egypt’s own agenda of reforms. To support implementation of the Action Plan, The European Commission has agreed a €558 million package of financial support for Egypt for 2007 to 2010 under the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI).

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