The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The EU and its aid to Egypt

#SOSEgypt - Save our Spring

This is a petition urging the EU to show greater scrutiny in dishing out pledged aid to Egypt:

On the 15th of November, only a week before President Mursi issued a dictatorial decree granting him immunity from law, the EU pledged €5 billion financial support to Egypt. This is European taxpayer’s money.

President Morsi is following the same policies of Mubarak in repressing his opponents, in just the first 100 days of his presidency; Egyptian police were behind at least 88 cases of torture, seven cases of sexual assault and the deaths of 34 people. Outspoken media personalities are being intimidated protesters violently attacked and killed, and religious freedoms constrained . In the absence of constitutional safeguards, violations of basic human rights and civil liberties may well get worse. Europe can't turn a blind eye to the abuses that the Egyptian government is responsible for.

Despite requests from European members of Parliament and GOs the EU - to date- has not made clear how it will condition its support to the Egyptian government on the respect of internationally agreed human rights and liberties. The EU must monitor laws in the making, and condition development aid to the Egyptian government on the respect of rights and liberties, such as social justice, rule of law, gender equality, labour rights, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of association.

Of the EU aid package most if handled by the EIB and EBRD in terms of project finance and specifically earmarked loans. But at least €700m of the remainder is EU-administered aid that is directly contigent on two broad sets of conditionalities:

1. Economic reform measures, broadly defined as those agreed to under the forthcoming IMF agreement;

2. "Good governance" — an ill-defined term.

The EU missed the ball completely in December when it chose, largely because of lack of interest of member states and the personal preference of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, not to say much about Morsi's legal coup and the rush over the constitution. Yet EU officials had previously pledged to abandon the old Mubarak-era approach and to be vigilant towards the new Morsi administration. It's what they said, yet they've repeatedly failed to even speak out beyond meaningless bromides such as urging "an inclusive constitution" — meaningless because there was no attempt to actually do that, or even buy time for negotiations by delaying the referendum. And then there are concerns over future human rights issues where the recently adopted constitution constrains them and ongoing ones regarding police violence, Islamist groups (including the MB) use of violence against protestors, concerns over media freedoms, etc. We've had more silence since then.

Once the IMF deal is approved (and perhaps before it) the EU will be under great internal pressure to deliver this aid because of Egypt's dire economic predicament. While it continue to flout its own promises of conditionality?