Friday

3rd Feb 2023

Exclusive

Egypt coast guard to get EU cash to stop fleeing Egyptians

  • Over 3,500 Egyptian nationals left for Italy in the first five months of this year. (Photo: Jolianne)
Listen to article

Egypt's coast guard is set to receive €80m from the European Commission to prevent people from taking boats towards Italy, according to an internal paper.

Drafted by the EU Commission and dated 15 June, the paper says more than 3,500 Egyptians fled the country by boat in the first five months of this year. Almost all ended up in Italy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

This is four times as many over the same period in 2021 and from a country whose leadership is steeped in widespread human-rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, systematic torture, and enforced disappearances.

Egyptian nationals are now the top nationality of people arriving irregularly in Italy, notes the paper.

The document is demanding urgent cooperation between Egypt, Libya, and others "in light of a dramatic increase of irregular arrivals of Egyptian nationals to the EU (Italy)."

Millions to be paid out this year

The EU money will be doled out in two phases, says the paper.

Around €23m will be handed out this year for "maritime border surveillance equipment." The remaining €57m is slated for next year "for further equipment to be identified."

The ambiguity of the language suggests it will be up to the Egyptian authorities to decide how to use the new "equipment", posing questions if it may also be used to crack down on dissenting voices.

In May, a handful of NGOs including Human Rights Watch said repression is thriving under Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al Sisi's rule.

For its part, the commission says the money is part of a developing plan to support Egypt's search and rescue and border surveillance at both land and sea borders.

It says the "EU stands ready to support Egypt" when it comes to preventing people from fleeing by boats. It also wants to increase controls of Egypt's border with Libya and Sudan, but offers no insights into how in light of the remoteness of the region.

The commission notes it also provided €32.9m of humanitarian funding to refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt.

Meanwhile, the EU border police Frontex is gearing up as part of a so-called EU4BorderSecurity project.

Egypt received some €4m from the project, which aims to "enhance border security in the Southern Neighbourhood."

This includes coast guard boarding exercises, physical workshops, and webinars incurring a total cost of approximately €70,000 since 2019.

The paper is dated the same day European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced a gas deal in Cairo alongside al Sisi.

The deal, which includes Israel, aims to help member states wean themselves off Russian fossil fuels.

EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers

EU council president Donald Tusk wants to discuss deepening relations with authoritarian Egypt, as a model of migrant reduction, with EU heads of state and government at a meeting in Salzburg, Austria on Wednesday.

EU Commission cannot stop Italy banning rescue boats

The European Commission says it is powerless to stop Italy from banning charity rescue boats entering its territorial waters. The statement follows moves by the new government under Georgia Meloni to further crack down on the Mediterranean Sea rescues.

EU Commission wants drones for Bulgaria on Turkey border

The European Commission wants to shore up the land border between Bulgaria and Turkey with drones. "We can strengthen the border with management capabilities," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told MEPs.

Latest News

  1. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  2. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  3. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  4. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  5. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU
  6. EU green industry plan could spark 'dangerous subsidy race'
  7. Wolves should be defended, EU ministers urge
  8. EU Commission wants drones for Bulgaria on Turkey border

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us