EU races to deliver Egypt aid package. Backed by EU countries, albeit informally, the European Commission is accelerating its efforts to sign a comprehensive economic support agreement with Egyptian authorities. The aid package is set to include funds to address migration, an area where Brussels and Cairo already cooperate but where the latter struggles due to economic headwinds…
- …although the agreement will not explicitly be linked to Egypt’s commitment to prevent onward migration or a possible influx of Palestinian refugees from the Gaza Strip, the Financial Times reported.
It’s linked with Israel. Negotiations have been ongoing for months, but the conflict between Israel and Hamas has added new urgency to the matter – especially considering Egypt’s key role, both as a regional power broker and a neighbouring country. The war’s repercussions on regional stability are likely to compound the several ongoing economic crises in Northern African countries and boost migration flows, including those across the Mediterranean.
- The number of irregular arrivals (mostly from Tunisia to Italy) has tripled since 2021 and is steadily climbing towards record levels from the 2015-2016 migratory crisis.
Where have we seen this before? Back in July, when the EU Commission struck a (now frozen) strategic partnership with Tunisia, President Ursula von der Leyen had called it a “template” and a “blueprint for the future” for EU partnerships with other countries in the region. EU officials remarked the Tunisia deal “could be used as a model for engaging with Cairo, as it not only encompasses funding for border control but also economic support,” reports the FT.
- It’s a step beyond previous deals like the one signed between the EU and Turkey in 2016, whereby Brussels essentially paid $6 billion to Ankara to curb EU-bound migration.
- Both the approach (linking economic development and migration, as the former addresses the latter’s root causes) and the European effort on the Tunisia deal were spearheaded by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
The Rome Process. Her government has been working to create a framework for engaging countries in the enlarged Mediterranean and structuring non-predatory cooperation across energy, industry, food system and education. While Brussels and Tunis finalised that deal, two dozen MENA leaders were convening in Rome for the first Development and Migration Conference – geared at building that framework together.