The EU has released a new assistance package worth €50 million in support of the empowerment of Egyptian women and the improvement of water resources management. Brussels adopted the funding for development projects in Egypt, aiming to support socio-economic development and civil society in the country and thus improve the lives of the population, targeting in particular women’s rights and water resources management. The aid is the first part of the 2016 bilateral assistance package designated for Egypt.
The newly released funding consists of two programs – Advancing Women’s Rights in Egypt and National Drainage Program. The former is worth €10 million and will support efforts to put an end to female circumcision. The latter worth €40 million will contribute to increase Egypt’s agricultural production by providing adequate drainage infrastructure and enhancing the capacities of different stakeholders to rehabilitate and extend underground drainage networks.
These two programs are a continuation of the EU’s effort to support Egypt’s socio-economic development and civil society. The EU and Egypt started diplomatic relations in 1966 and both sides seek to develop a strong partnership due to geographical proximity. The mutual ties emphasize close cooperation on democratic reform, economic modernization, social reform, and migration issues. The current agenda of EU-Egypt relations is formulated in an Action Plan under the European Neighborhood Policy.
Trade relations between both sides are governed by the EU-Egypt Association Agreement of 2004 that established a free-trade area with the elimination of tariffs on industrial products and significant concessions on agricultural products. Since 2004, bilateral trade has more than doubled and reached its highest level ever in 2012 – from €11.8 billion in 2004 to €23.9 billion in 2012.