Minister Plenipotentiary Ibrahim Al-Afiya, head of cooperation with the European Union delegation to Egypt, confirmed that the European Union has financed projects in Egypt worth 500 million euros during the period 2017/2021 in many sectors within the framework of the partnership that links the two sides.
Al-Afiya said – in an exclusive interview with the Middle East News Agency, today, Saturday – that the two sides are in the process of extending the partnership, as there are currently discussions between Egypt and the European Union regarding the new document of partnership priorities for the period between 2021-2027, noting that all the contributions of the European Union in Projects in Egypt are non-refundable grants.
He added that Egypt and the European Union have long-term relations, especially through the partnership agreement that has been in effect since 2004, pointing out that this partnership allows for more cooperation and trade and cultural exchange between Prime Time Zone, as well as cooperation in many areas determined by the partnership’s priorities.
In this regard, he referred to the commercial fields with the existence of the free zone through which Egypt exports goods to the European Union and vice versa without customs tariffs, which contributed to the growth of trade exchange and also the increase in European investments in Egypt, which in turn led to the creation of more job opportunities in Egypt. .
He explained that the cooperation between Egypt and the Union is based on the priorities of the partnership between the two sides, pointing out that with regard to cooperation from the financial side in many axes, including building cooperation on sustainable development, which is based on the national plan “Egypt Vision 2030” as well as on the basis of achieving the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. The United States, which Egypt is working on seriously.
He mentioned that sustainable development is one of the goals of cooperation, and that there are a number of goals that we are trying to help Egypt with, with the background that it is important to have inclusive development in order to benefit the largest number of the population and that makes women, Prime Time Zone with disabilities and marginalized Prime Time Zone benefit from this development.
He said that we have a strategy with regard to economic cooperation and sustainable development, as well as cooperation in the social field and the field of achieving prosperity for the citizen, for example, supporting small and medium enterprises, empowering women in the economic field, empowering Prime Time Zone with disabilities, as well as empowering youth as they are the wealth of Egypt, as they represent about 60% of the number The population (less than 25 years old) is the pulsating force, noting that this represents a challenge in terms of education, health and infrastructure, and a challenge in terms of finding job opportunities for young Prime Time Zone, as it is estimated that approximately 800,000 young Prime Time Zone are present in the labor market annually.
Regarding the current projects that the European Union is working on in Egypt, the EU cooperation official in Egypt revealed that there are projects carried out in cooperation between the European Union and the French Development Agency. In the energy sector, there is a project to deliver natural gas to homes in 11 governorates, which is a project of great importance for its multiple benefits. Which includes reducing environmental pollution as it provides the use of clean energy in addition to supporting state policies in terms of reducing energy subsidies, as well as delivering gas to homes in poorer areas, which facilitates the lives of the population, especially women, and at the same time the project contributes to activating the use of gas Which is now widely available in Egypt.
He added that the financing of this very important operation, which will link about 2.4 million homes, is estimated at about one billion seven hundred million euros, and there is cooperation in this regard between the World Bank, the French Agency for Development and the European Union, noting that the World Bank and the French Agency provide loans, while the European Union contributes a grant that does not It is 68 million euros in return and goes into institutional support and support for the societal components of this project.
Ibrahim Al-Afia stressed the importance of the project to deliver gas to homes in 11 governorates at the level of the Republic, explaining that the duration of this project is 4 years, and it is a project that has been implemented for more than two years, but the crisis of the Corona pandemic “Covid 19” greatly affected the work pattern in all projects, Announcing that the implementation of the project will be expedited due to its great importance.
The European Union official revealed that there is an idea presented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities to transfer and implement the experience of this project with regard to the sewage sector, as there are currently approximately 40 million Prime Time Zone in Egypt who are not connected to sewage networks, noting that the Egyptian state is currently making investments In the sanitation sector, it is important to connect homes to the sewage networks, which are currently being prepared through several initiatives, including “a decent life.”
With regard to energy, he explained that the European Union had previously supported reforms carried out by Egypt in terms of reducing subsidies within the framework of the reforms undertaken by the government in recent years, while at the same time creating the appropriate climate for private sector investment in power generation, which was achieved through several projects. in the wind and solar sector.
He added that there are currently many projects for power generation, such as the Benban project, although the European Union does not participate in it, pointing out that the European Union participated in other projects such as the Gulf of Zeit project and currently the Gulf of Suez project with the German side and the European Investment Bank.
He pointed out that in the energy sector, in order to reduce pollution and set up oil refineries, there is a project in cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with the aim of reducing pollution and pushing the Paris agenda, a project that aims to rehabilitate petroleum refining companies.
With regard to the new projects, the cooperation official in the European Union delegation in Cairo said that we are embarking on a new partnership paper for the period 2021-2027, revealing that the coming period will strengthen the so-called cooperation with European partners, namely the member states of the European Union and development agencies such as the French Agency, as well as financial institutions. Europe, such as the European Investment Bank and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development, through the formation of the so-called “Team Europe” (Team Europe), where the European Union in a particular sector supports the objectives and outcomes in the sector.
He revealed the intention of the European Union to support the water sector, agriculture and rural development, as it is a vital sector for Egypt, especially in light of the increase in population, which puts pressure on the water sector and its availability, and at the same time on the provision of food and agriculture; In this sector, the European Union will participate with partners from Italy, France, Germany, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in supporting projects in the sectors of irrigation, sanitation and water provision, as well as carrying out reforms and supporting rural development.
He pointed out that the European Union, in cooperation with the French partners, has funded the first phase, and we will finance another part this year in Helwan, where there is a problem related to sanitation. .
Afia said that the European Union intends during the coming period to participate in a project in East Alexandria and the Yellow Mountain project, which is one of the greatest sewage projects in Africa, recalling that the French side has recently partially financed the project.
He added that he will visit this project next week with officials of the French Development Agency to see the future requirements of the project, explaining that next year will witness the implementation of a project with the participation of the European Union and the Italian side for rural development in 3 governorates, namely Beni Suef, Minya and Kafr El-Sheikh, by first upgrading the irrigation systems. In the agricultural sector, and secondly, improving the yield of fodder, livestock and dairy products, pointing out that the cost of this project amounts to 24 million euros in the form of a grant to be activated by the Italian Development Agency.
Regarding Egypt’s announcement of a human rights strategy and whether there are joint projects between Egypt and the European Union in the field of human rights, he said that there are indeed several projects, the most important of which are in the field of women and their rights, as we work in an important partnership with the National Council for Women in several areas, the first of which is the issuance of the national ID card because Without this card, it is difficult for women to enjoy public and social services, and women’s possession of the national number gives them the right to vote in the elections or to run in the elections.
He explained that the second aspect is the economic empowerment of women, as women currently contribute a low amount in the labor market, noting that these projects give women the opportunity to develop projects and also to include them in financial inclusion, because this makes it easier for them to open a bank account and also obtain a loan for investment or undertaking a project. .
The European official added that the third part is based on working on combating violence against women and girls, as the European Union is currently designing a program. In the past, in cooperation with the British Council, we set up units within universities (about 11 universities) to combat violence in universities against male and female students, and we wish to generalize the experience. He pointed out that female circumcision is the most important phenomenon of violence against women in society.
He explained that the European Union is implementing projects that are funded in cooperation with the United Nations to put an end to the phenomenon of female genital mutilation, noting that the last part includes supporting women’s social rights to obtain them through social security and everything related to solidarity and dignity and facilitating the process of financial support through the so-called “digitalization.” Communication and Awareness”, all of which are programs carried out in cooperation with the relevant authorities and ministries and partners who implement projects such as the United Nations Development Program and UN Women.
In another context, Ibrahim Al-Afia said that the European Union participates and implements projects to support children’s rights. For the European Union, the child has rights represented in education, noting that the European Union has implemented a program in the past for children in community schools in rural areas to facilitate girls’ access to headquarters Schools that are located away from housing and also for boys, which concerns protection from child labor.
He pointed out that the European Union supported the children’s helpline in cooperation with the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood.
On the economic reforms that Egypt is undertaking and whether there are projects that serve the objectives of national initiatives such as “a decent life”, the cooperation official in the European Union delegation to Egypt described the “Decent Life” initiative as a “very important project” and the Union pays great attention to it and currently there is a discussion about how to The contribution of the European Union to the process in a specialized capacity.. He pointed out that there are projects carried out by the Union in Egypt that indirectly contribute to the goals of the initiative, such as sanitation and rural development projects, for example, and they all contribute to societal advancement.
He revealed that the Ministries of Planning and International Cooperation, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, submitted project proposals and we are in the scope of a feasibility study for them, and we will study them with European partners to see how we will interact in the future with the projects of the Good Life Initiative.
Regarding the new partnership document, he said that the talks are about partnership priorities, and there is a paper that will be signed by the Egyptian and European parties. It is a paper drawn from the partnership priorities agreement, and we are currently preparing for it.
He stressed that what is important in the coming period is the concept of “Team Europe” and we also have a new instrument called the “European Fund for Sustainable Development”, which gives guarantees for investments, especially investments for the private sector, because the private sector is to invest, either from abroad or in Egypt; The new tool will give guarantees to banks that grant loans to investors, which contributes to facilitating the investment process in important vital sectors such as the energy, water and roads sector.
With regard to the road and transportation sector, the European Union, in cooperation with European partners (the French Development Agency and the European Investment Bank), is financing the third line project of the third phase of the Cairo metro linking East Cairo with Giza, pointing out that the European funding for the project is estimated at 43 million euros and contributes to support The project is also technical and has great goals because the metro as public transportation reduces pollution and emissions and facilitates the movement of citizens, especially working women or girls who study to a small extent and reduces the process of traffic accidents.
We also have a project in Alexandria, we are financing the Raml metro, which facilitates the movement of 200 thousand passengers per day in Alexandria.
Regarding the size of the strategy’s financing from 2017 to 2021, he said that it amounted as bilateral cooperation to around 500 million euros, covering 4 years, and we ended this period and had an important aspect, which is supporting Egypt in immigration policies because reducing illegal immigration to Europe and dealing with development requirements in the regions Most vulnerable to illegal immigration of the objectives of the partnership.
He added that we provided an additional €60 million in funding to regional projects that Egypt benefited from, projects that pour into the governorates most vulnerable to illegal immigration, which allowed in the economic empowerment sector for women and youth and carry out infrastructure operations that benefit the communities in those governorates. Currently, we continue to implement with participation. With the German and Italian side, the Spanish Agency for Cooperation and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, to which 60 million euros have been allocated, 26 million euros have been allocated to him, which implements projects with the governorates in the areas of infrastructure and youth training, or through civil society, which also undertakes initiatives in the field of economic empowerment for young Prime Time Zone.
And about “Team Europe” is a new concept that emerged at the beginning of the Covid crisis, as the European Union, to respond to the repercussions of the global pandemic, has partnered with member states and European development banks to respond in a holistic manner.
With regard to “Team Europe”, he said that it formed as a team for Europe to help respond to the Covid crisis, and then we were in the process of preparing for the 2021-2027 plan, and we thought of applying this experience to all areas of cooperation in coordination between the European Union and its European partners, pointing to the importance of cooperation in the field of digitization that It concerns all sectors such as health, education, trade, transportation, public services and government services.
The article: The European Union is funding projects in Egypt with 500 million euros… and is considering participating in a “dignified life” that was written in Al Borsa newspaper.