Photo’s source:; the flags of Egypt and EU


The European Union on Sunday, March 17 (2024) announced a €7.4 billion aid package for cash-strapped Egypt due to rising fears of influx of migrants to Egypt escaping the Israeli bombardment in Gaza and the worsening economic situation of the country. The newly agreed upon aid package by the European Union towards Egypt signifies the continued focus of the European Union to build state resilience in its Southern neighborhood while also relaxing its promoted conditionality of human rights provisions and democratic practices for determining the level of financial assistance by the European Alliance towards its partners in the MENA region.

The EU-Egypt relation is marked with extended periods of economic and social partnership and cooperation while thriving against underlying concerns revolving around regime changes, yet the relations between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the European Union have remained multi-faceted and dynamic. The recent history of economic and social ties between the two entities has been cooperative and looked promising with multiple agreements and ties hinting towards an optimistic future. The start of the bilateral relations between Egypt and European Union was marked by the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) in 1995, aiming to promote economic integration and democratic reform in the southern neighborhood of Europe. However, due to the non-binding nature of the agreement, real and tangible impact of the agreement was little seen until the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) of 2004, which sought to integrate Eastern and Southern neighbors of mainland Europe with the European Union regulations. The policy promised financial assistance and funds conditional upon enacting of government and economic reforms to strengthen state building in the region. The ENP was combined with the bilateral 2004 Association Agreement with Egypt, which broadened the framework of cooperation between the two countries to political, social and economic dimensions with its primary purpose being the creation of a free trade area over the coming twelve years. The association agreement was followed by the EU-Egypt Action Plan of 2007 which set things into action. These agreements between the two entities have succeeded to increase trade cooperation between the two entities with the onslaught being the EU-Egypt Association Agreement which aimed for trade liberalization through tariff reductions, trade facilitation measures and cooperation in areas such as agriculture and services. The EU has come to be one of the biggest trade partners for Egypt given the multiple trade agreements between the two entities. Hence, the aim of the agreements as a source of providing economic cooperation as well as financial aid in times of economic crises is realized. However, these agreements have a dual nature of action, with Europe hoping to bring stability and peace to its Southern borders to solve key issues such as migration through economic aid, while also imposing conditionality of continued improvements in human rights provision and protection of liberal values within Egypt for further cooperation. However, the history of the diplomatic relations between the two entities shows that the European Union has been willing to relax the conditionality and make compromises for the sake of stability of the crisis-ridden region. This is evident from the repeated aid packages and financial assistance given to the Middle Eastern regimes, since Egypt has proven stable under President El Sisi rule.

The concerns of increasing human rights protection are yet to be addressed through the agreements despite them being modelled on the pre-accession strategy and the ‘more for more’ principle. The reason for these concessions by the European Union revolves around the cruciality of the stability of Egypt, as Europe is already struggling with migrants and asylum seekers from the Mediterranean as well as Ukraine. Egypt serves as both a destination and transit country for migrants fleeing from the sub-Saharan Africa particularly after the Sudan crisis in April 2023 in which fighting erupted in Sudan. The influx of refugees into Egypt coincides with worsening economic situation in the country with dramatic price increases. An expected Israeli ground assault on Rafah, in the Southern Gaza strip, which is currently housing almost the entire population of Gaza after being secluded through repeated bombings, raises fears of influx of refugees coming into Egypt which borders Rafah. Hence, instability in Egypt could lead to severe influx of refugees seeping into Europe over the Mediterranean in hopes of a prosperous life. Hence, the European Union has been willing to salvage the struggling country out of a looming crisis yet again through substantial aid.

Hence, the European Union seems less willing to compromise the stability of its borders and overlooks its normative framework in exchange of controlling refugee influx. Hence, the financial assistance and aid packages continue to strengthen the relationship between the European Union and its southern neighbor and provide positive signals for continued collaborations and trade agreements between the two in the coming future.


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About the author:

Mrs. Moeeza JAVED

Moeeza JAVED is a passionate economics student with a keen interest in understanding and analyzing economic phenomena. Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Economics at Bilkent University, she is dedicated to exploring the complexities of economic theory and its real-world applications. Throughout her academic journey, Moeeza has demonstrated a strong aptitude for quantitative analysis, economic modelling, and data interpretation. She is currently studying in EDHEC business school in France for an exchange semester. In addition to her academic pursuits, she is an outgoing individual who enjoys taking on leadership roles and participating in various extracurricular activities. She has been actively involved in the Erasmus Student Network serving in the board as treasurer and enjoys volunteering in student clubs at her university. She is an avid reader of English literature and enjoys playing table tennis. Currently, she is intern at MEPEI.

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