What’s behind the EU’s deal with Egypt?

The European Union has concluded a new agreement with Egypt under which includes up to 6.8 billion euros in loans and investments to bolster the country’s flagging economy and promote digitisation. Egypt will also receive 600 million euros in direct grants, 200 million of which are to be used to stem illegal migration. Commentators are largely critical of the deal.

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

People smugglers can rub their hands in glee

The Frankfurter Rundschau criticises the agreement:

“The EU, which is committed to human rights, is outsourcing responsibility — so that human rights violations are not seen so clearly. ... For the people fleeing al-Sisi’s regime, the agreement is a bitter message. But it also affects men and women from Sudan, a country at civil war, who are trying to reach safety. If border controls are tightened this will force them to embark on even more dangerous escape routes. The human smuggling industry, which the deal is supposedly intended to combat, can rub its hands in glee.”

Pitt von Bebenburg
De Volkskrant (NL) /

No alternative

De Volkskrant sees no alternative to the dubious deal:

“Creating more opportunities for legal migration is one way to reduce uncontrolled migration. Foreign policy is often a choice between unattractive alternatives. Supporting al-Sisi’s regime goes against European values, but doing nothing endangers the stability of the EU. Of course the EU is getting its hands dirty by doing business with a dictator like the one in Egypt, but democratic leaders are hard to come by in the region.”

Peter Giesen
Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

A strategic partnership

Brussels is also pinning its hopes on asylum centres being set up in Egypt, the Kleine Zeitung suspects:

“Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi can rejoice. At a meeting of various EU leaders in Cairo the EU promised 7.4 billion euros for his heavily indebted country. Of course, the reasons for this are less altruistic than strategic. In addition to supporting the reliable guardian in the Mediterranean, which prevents mass migration from other countries and Egypt itself, Brussels is also eyeing up the country as a potential partner for (still controversial) asylum centres in third countries.”

Christina Traar
La Repubblica (IT) /

Double standards as a structural defect

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had no business accompanying von der Leyen, La Repubblica rails:

“There is something contradictory about a government that is convinced of its Atlanticist position within the placenta of liberal democracies, yet seems to have no interest in defending and cultivating the preconditions for such a position. ... A disruption of principles that appears to be a structural defect of our right-wing government, both within the confines of our country and outside it, as demonstrated by the parade of Giorgia Meloni and Ursula von der Leyen in Cairo for the signing of yet another anti-migration pact. ... And not with just any regime, but with the one that has refused any truth about the state’s murder of an Italian citizen, Giulio Regeni.”

Stefano Cappellini
Kurier (AT) /

Deal comes too late

The agreement comes too late to prevent the right-wing populists from making gains in the EU elections, Kurier believes:

“The current actions of the EU leadership can only be explained by the pressure Brussels is under as a result of the asylum problem. Countries as important as Germany are suffering a wave of migration because freedom of movement in the Schengen area no longer works — and because right-wing populists are gaining ground due to the high migration levels. The result of all this will be presented at the EU elections on 9 June. The EU’s Egypt deal comes far too late for a turnaround.”

Martin Gebhart