EU and Egypt Launch Investment Conference with $42bn in Deals

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen began a two-day investment conference in Cairo on Saturday, where European companies are set to sign over 20 deals worth more than 40 billion euros ($42 billion). This event follows a 7.4 billion-euro EU funding package signed in March to support Egypt’s struggling economy.

“At this conference, European companies are signing over 20 new deals… which are worth over 40 billion euros,” von der Leyen announced.

The strategic partnership agreement, aimed at bolstering Egypt’s energy exports to Europe and controlling migration, includes an initial tranche of one billion euros in macrofinancial assistance. This macrofinancial aid, consisting of medium- and long-term loans, represents the majority of the EU’s 7.4 billion-euro financial support package. An additional 1.8 billion euros in European investments is also anticipated as part of the deal.

Egypt, facing a severe economic crisis marked by rapid inflation, urgently needs financial assistance. In his opening remarks, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi highlighted the conference’s focus on “employment, economic growth, green and renewable energies,” aiming to attract European investment in Egypt.

The EU funding deal leverages Egypt’s natural gas reserves to secure foreign currency, while the EU seeks alternatives to Russian gas in the wake of the Ukraine war. Von der Leyen emphasised, “Egypt has the ambitious goal of becoming a clean energy hub, and this is in Europe’s interest too.”

However, the migration conditions of the EU-Egypt partnership have drawn criticism from human rights groups. The agreement is part of the EU’s broader strategy to curb irregular migration across the Mediterranean, involving similar deals with Libya, Tunisia, and Mauritania. Human Rights Watch described the partnership as reinforcing “authoritarian rulers while betraying human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and activists.” Amnesty International urged that the EU deal “must depend on human rights reforms.”

Von der Leyen underscored Egypt’s importance, stating, “Egypt’s stability and prosperity are essential for an entire region,” especially as neighbouring Gaza and Sudan are embroiled in conflict.

The investment conference reflects the EU’s strategic interest in stabilising and fostering economic growth in Egypt while navigating the complex dynamics of regional energy and migration challenges.

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