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The signing ceremony was attended by Dr. Michael Köhler, Director for Neighbourhood South at the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission, Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, and Ambassador Ivan Surkoš, Head of EU Delegation to Egypt.
"Through today's signature ceremony, the EU underlines its commitment to develop strategic cooperation programmes in Egypt which will have direct benefits for its citizens," said Dr. Michael Köhler.
The joint programme entitled "EU Support to Egypt's National Population Strategy" worth €27 million in grants will assist Egypt in its efforts to tackle challenges of population growth in order to foster the country's sustainable development. It is expected to provide substantial technical and financial support to scale-up family planning services and contraceptive commodities available in Egypt and to make them more accessible. Moreover, the programme will support efforts to raise the public awareness on family planning, especially among Egypt's youth and the population in reproductive age.
"Egypt's National Population Strategy provides a comprehensive framework for managing demographic growth in a way that contributes to the sustainable development and prosperity of all Egyptians. The EU will provide EUR 27 million in grants to support the Government of Egypt in this important endeavour," Dr. Köhler stated.
Additionally, the EU and Egypt concluded the Financing Agreement under the ENI Cross Border Cooperation (CBC) Med Programme. This is a major step for Egyptian organisations which are now fully eligible to participate in calls for proposals and receive Programme funds.
The programme covers four thematic fields:
1) Business and SMEs development, seeks to positively contribute to this situation through the support to start-up enterprises and the enhancement of Euro-Mediterranean value chains and clusters. Diversification of tourism into new segments and niches is also part of this first objective.
2) Support to education, research, technological development and innovation, focuses on technological transfer, commercialisation of research results and links between industry and research.
3) Promotion of social inclusion and the fight against poverty.
4) Environmental protection, climate change adaptation and mitigation, continues to be a major field of intervention of the Programme. Efficiency in water, waste and energy management as well as conservation of coastal areas are set to contribute to a more sustainable Mediterranean region.
The ENI CBC “Mediterranean Sea Basin” Programme was adopted by the European Commission on 17 December 2015. The Joint Monitoring Committee, a body composed of 14 countries, including Egypt, was responsible for designing the strategy and implementation modalities of the new Programme. Over € 209 million in grants were allocated by the European Union to the ENI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme for the period 2014-2020.
"One of the main challenges of cooperation is to create economic opportunities and jobs to reduce high rates of unemployment. A key pillar of the EU's CBC programme is the development of business and SMEs, which will support start-ups. Thereby, the programme will contribute to increasing employment rates in the region. In addition, the introduction of sustainable tourism, which is also part of the CBC programme, aims to boost the local tourism industry as a main driver for job creation and prosperity," Dr. Köhler concluded.
EU assistance to Egypt currently stands at more than €1.3 billion in ongoing grant commitments. Together with EU Member States and European Financial Institutions' grants, loans and debt swaps, this figure increases to €11 billion, making the EU the biggest donor in Egypt.
Single Support Framework 2017-2020
The new EU-Egypt Single Support Framework sets out the EU's priorities for bilateral assistance to Egypt under the European Neighbourhood Instrument for the period 2017 – 2020. It foresees an allocation in grants between €432 and €528 million for Egypt.