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European Commission - Press release
New Commission support to increase income and create jobs for small and medium businesses in Egypt
Brussels, 08 November 2011 -- Today the European Commission has approved a programme aimed at improving living conditions for the poor and stimulating job creation in rural areas in Egypt by supporting the development of agricultural Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The new support, worth €22 million, will improve access to finance for farmers and increase productivity in selected value-chains such as the dairy and aquaculture sector with the aim of improving farmers' living conditions. The support will also provide capacity building and training in order to improve farmers' business planning skills and enhance the understanding of local banks dealing with agricultural SMEs.
EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, said: "Small and medium enterprises have a vital role to play in creating jobs and growth in Egypt. By making it easier for them to access finance we are helping to remove one of the main barriers to job creation, enabling more Egyptian people to make a living and support their families as a result".
The project follows up on the spirit of the Financial Investment and Sector Co-operation (FISC) – a Rural Component programme that ended last year and which was evaluated as a positive one. The project is expected to start following the establishment of the first democratic government in the second quarter of 2012 with the first farmers already benefitting in the second half of 2012.
Facts and figures on EU-Egyptian relations
EU financial co-operation with Egypt is governed under the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument which has foreseen an envelope of €449 million over the period 2011-2013. The priorities under this multi-annual framework are threefold:
(i) support to political reform, human rights and judiciary;
(ii) support to economic reforms and
(iii) support to sustainable development.
In 2011, a total of €122 million were committed to Egypt to assist in the areas of energy, social housing, trade enhancement and support to agricultural SMEs.
Agriculture has always been a key sector for the Egyptian economy, contributing 13.7% of GDP and providing approximately 30% of total jobs of the labour market. In the follow up to the historic events of January 25th 2011, the Commission support, which is part of the Annual Action Programme 2011, will help Egypt face some of its most important and urgent socio-economic challenges as it moves towards more democracy and shared prosperity.
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