The European Union (EU) Special Representative to the Southern Mediterranean Region Bernardino León is currently in Cairo holding talks with various political parties and government officials.
The meeting is a follow-up to the EU-Egypt Task Force meeting held last November. The task force was established by the EU in cooperation with President Mohamed Morsi during his visit to Brussels last year.
León arrived in Cairo on Monday and began talks with government officials and political parties on Tuesday, the EU delegation to Egypt press officer confirmed . She said León had met the finance and foreign affairs ministers on Tuesday, as well as members of the Al-Dostour Party, the National Salvation Front (NSF), the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and the Salafi Al-Nour Party.
León was also scheduled to meet Amr Moussa and members of the Free Egyptians Party on Wednesday, as well as Essam El-Haddad, the president’s assistant to the foreign media.
The task force first met last November, and was the largest meeting to date between the EU and Egypt, with over 500 participants including the EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Egypt’s foreign minister, Mohamed Amr.
According to the EU, the task force is meant to enhance the EU’s engagement with countries in transition following the Arab Spring.
Other noteworthy participants in November’s meeting included members of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Commercial ties, economic cooperation, tourism, political reform, asset recovery and human rights were topics discussed during the meeting.
According to the EU delegation in Cairo, 102 businessmen were present at the November meeting, representing companies with a combined worth of €600bn. At that time, tourism was the highest priority on the business agenda, and the meeting drafted plans for future investments in the tourism sector.
Asset recovery was also discussed, with a promise of full cooperation from the EU and member states to work towards repatriation of funds. The EU also said it would provide election monitors in upcoming parliamentary elections upon request.
On the issue of human rights, the EU said it was committed to the promotion and respect of human rights, which includes gender equality, freedom of expression and association, freedom of religious belief, and the empowerment of women in all fields of society. The task force had also condemned any form of incitement to religious hatred or violence.
None of the agreed upon loans have been delivered to Egypt yet, as the EU operates on the “more for more” policy, which demands real political and human rights reforms in return for financial assistance. The reforms demanded by the EU have thus far not been carried out and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan is another condition that needed to be met before the EU would finalise the loans.