News / Europe

EU Debates Aid Cuts to Egypt

EU official Bernardino Leon
EU official Bernardino Leon
ReutersSelah Hennessy
The European Union is debating whether to cut aid to Egypt following a week of violence that has left nearly 900 people dead. Senior diplomats were in Brussels Monday to discuss the European response but analysts say the outcome could be limited.

The diplomatic meeting in Brussels Monday was a step towards coordinating a European response to Egypt’s bloodshed. On Wednesday, EU foreign ministers are to hold an emergency meeting.  No specific proposals have yet been made, but analysts say suspending Europe’s aid program is an option, as is halting all arms shipments to Egypt.

Last year the European Union pledged nearly $7 billion in aid and loans to Egypt.

Shashank Joshi is an Egypt analyst at the Royal United Services Institute research group in London. He said cutting European aid will not be a huge game changer.

“Simply cutting off aid probably wouldn't be enough and I think one way to apply serious pressure on the Egyptian authorities to cease their campaign of oppression and to force some kind of political accommodation would probably be more robust sanctions” he said.

EU has trade leverage with Egypt

According to Egypt's statistics office, European countries are its biggest trading partner. In 2011 the trade volume reached over $30 billion.

Europe also exports military equipment to Egypt. In the first quarter of this year, Britain approved licenses for about $70 million in military equipment, the bulk for military helicopters. Although some licenses have since been revoked, campaigners are urging Britain to halt all its arms exports to Egypt.

In the United States, for the fiscal year that begins in October, President Barack Obama has requested $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt.

Joshi said U.S. cuts could have a much more important impact inside Egypt - but he said the U.S. is unlikely to follow in Europe’s footsteps.

"I think the Americans really are not paying much attention to what the Europeans are doing or what anybody else is doing. What they are concerned about is, will this really help or will we lose important influence with the generals?”

On Monday Saudi Arabia said Arab and Islamic countries will support Egypt if Western nations do cut their aid.

The Egyptian army ousted President Mohamed Morsi in early July. Within days, three Gulf Arab states pledged a total of about $12 billion to support the new leadership.

Western aid  will not be Egypt’s biggest concern. But its economy is a major worry said Joshi.

“The effect of any aid cut-off is dwarfed by the broader impact of political unrest on the economy, which is already completely shredded over three years since Mubarak's fall, made worse during Morsi's period of government. And now attacks in key public cities, in tourist towns in the Sinai, means that tourist numbers are drastically falling off.”

Europeans make up about 70 percent of Egypt’s tourist industry. But Germany and others are warning their citizens against unnecessary travel there.

If those travel warnings stay in place it will have a major impact on the Egyptian economy, said Joshi.

Britons lining up for a flight from Heathrow airport on Monday said they were not put off by the recent violence. One man interviewed at the airport, who declined to give his name, said he had visited Egypt during previous periods of unrest and that his Red Sea resort had not been affected by the unrest. 

According to Egyptian government statistics from 2010 tourism created either direct or indirect employment to one in eight Egyptians.

You May Like

Video Obama: Action on Climate Change 'Economic, Security Imperative'

President spoke to reporters on sidelines of UN Climate Summit outside Paris, where leaders are working to agree on binding measures

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 19, 2013 2:50 PM
Cutting off aid to Egypt is a very bad idea. Egypt is in need of its good friends now, it is a bad time to show negative impression it, it will only mean direct support for the man-eating Muslim Brotherhood. If you cut arms supplies to Egypt, what happens to the supplies to the Muslim Brotherhood? That will tilt the balance of arms in the country in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. Or is Europe fueling crisis in Egypt through Muslim Brotherhood?

Sanctions? Another bad approach. Sanctions and aid limitation is simply asking Egypt to reroute its commercial activities to China. Already China is becoming Africa's largest trading partner and including a vacant Egypt will just be like a handover. In fact this is the time that Egypt needs its friends to rally round it to solve the problem of stagnation and regression caused by the Muslim Brotherhood. For once.

Saudi Arabia is leading a positive way. Goes to prove the edge of the so-called dictatorships that are cool-headed over islamic democracy under islamist regimes like Iran, Turkey and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. By now the West must be rethinking its support of the removal of the likes of Mubarak and Ben Ali in preference for so-called islamic democracy in Egypt and Tunisia. Those were mistakes in the past, fresh mistakes should be avoided in the present and in the future. Let there be no cutting of aid, no sanctions. Instead let the friends and lovers of Egypt rally round it in its trying time to solve the problems created by the Muslim Brotherhood. Unless Europe wishes Egypt a relapse into oblivion and retrogression into antiquity. Instead let the Muslim Brotherhood be banned forever, not just in Egypt, but everywhere else.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs