The 2015 ENP package "Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2014" consists of a joint Communication and a set of country specific and regional reports. The report on Egypt underlines key developments and reform efforts in 2014 and makes recommendations for the year to come.
Egypt's political and economic development in 2014 was marked by a complicated transition which itself was influenced by the difficult internal and regional security context. Egypt was faced with an ongoing insurgency of militant groups and the threat of a possible impact of the effects of Da'esh (including allegiance pledged to Da'esh by Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis). Their reach occasionally extended into mainland Egypt; terrorist attacks caused significant loss of life and key infrastructure.In addition, Egypt faced considerable security challenges related to the situation in Libya and the flow of migrants at its border with Libya, which is over 1 000 km long.
In the course of the year, following its reintegration into the African Union and amidst regional turmoil, Egypt emerged as a key foreign policy partner. Egypt played a pivotal role in brokering a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip in August 2014 and hosted a reconstruction conference in October.
The political transition continued to unfold with the completion of two more steps in the transitional roadmap– the approval of a new Constitution by referendum in January 2014 and the election of a president in May. The EU welcomed both votes but was critical of partial media coverage, very limited space for opposition and dissent and the political/legal context the elections were held in. A third key step in the roadmap –parliamentary elections – is due in 2015. Work remains in terms of governance, rule of law and human rights.
Nevertheless, the adoption of the new Constitution provides the tools for improvements to be made once a Parliament has been elected. The Constitution confers enhanced institutional controls to parliament, limits the presidential term, protects rights and freedoms and bolsters women's rights. The recourse to military trials of civilians remained in 2014. At the same time, departing from the spirit of the Constitution, freedoms of association, assembly and expression continued to be restricted. Restrictive NGO legislation constrained the functioning of civil society organisations, with difficult registration and over-complex funding and authorisation processes. A 2013 law, known as the "Protest Law", restricted the right to public assembly and peaceful demonstration, resulting in a high number of arrests and harsh sentences against peaceful activists of varied stripes. Press freedom was restricted through reported harassment of journalists, amongst others by security agents, which resulted in a prevalence of self-censorship.
The death penalty was handed down in many cases and executions resumed in June 2014 after a three-year de facto moratorium. There was a noticeably positive approach towards Coptic Christians, including through easing of restrictions on church construction and restoration.
Egypt's macroeconomic situation remained fragile but bold reforms were launched by the government to reduce expenditure through subsidy reductions and through the increase of tax revenue. Unemployment continued to increase and poverty was widespread but extreme poverty was reduced. The government appeared committed to reforms in certain social sectors, such as increasing government spending in education and public health.
The EU remained Egypt's main trading partner and main source of investment, but there were no official preparations for a possible Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Improvements in Egypt's investment climate were noted, with greater legal certainty instituted for investors.
On asylum, the number of Syrian nationals registered in Egypt was 139,501 (10 September 2014), but the real number was estimated to be significantly higher. The plight of Syrian refugees of Palestinian origin continued. Human trafficking in Sinai subsided owing to the closure of Egypt's border with Israel, the toughening of immigration laws as well as the deployment of the military to tackle the insurgency there. The EU assisted the government in finalising a National Strategy to combat trafficking. Irregular migration by sea originating from Egypt significantly increased in 2014.
On the basis of the Country Progress Report, several actions are recommended to Egypt for the year to come, amongst others:
- fully enacting and implementing the 2014 Constitution, in particular to ensure the rule of law and to improve human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- completing the 2013 transitional roadmap by organising genuine democratic parliamentary elections;
- creating conditions conducive to an active and independent civil society that can contribute to the country’s political, social and economic development;
- re-applying the moratorium on the death penalty;
- ensuring macroeconomic stability, strengthen public finance management and taking action to implement economic reforms;
- ensuring that regulations on the right of asylum are in line with the Constitution and international standards on the rights of migrants and refugees.
Please find the whole list of recommendations here:
For further information:
I. EU financial support:
In 2014, EU funding through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) amounted to €115 million, for the following three programmes: Egypt's Natural Gas Connection Programme (€68 million), Kafr El Sheikh Waste Water Management Programme (€17 million), and Expanding Access to Education and Protection for Children at Risk (€30 million).
The indicative bilateral financial allocation under the ENI for the period 2014-2015 will be in the range of €210 – €257 million to support local socio-economic development and social protection; governance, transparency, and the environment.
In addition to ENI, Egypt also benefitted in 2014 from other EU support such as European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (€1.5 million).
Further information on financial cooperation can be found in Section IV of the Statistical Annex and on the Website of DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations:
II. Further sources of information:
- Joint Communication on the implementation of the ENP in 2014
- Progress report for Egypt with the full list of recommendations
- ENP Action Plan
- The European Neighbourhood Policy in general:
b.) European Commission
- Website of Ms Federica Mogherini, HR/VP
- Website of Mr Johannes Hahn, Member of the European Commission for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations