An Egyptian flag is visible between two flags of the European Union.

EU/Egypt: €7.4 billion of EU funds to Egypt must depend on human rights reforms 

Ahead of the EU-Egypt Investment Conference in Cairo (29-30 June) where the EU is expected to sign off on €1 billion in financial assistance to Egypt, Amnesty International is urging leaders to abide by their own rules and insist on reforms on human rights, democracy and rule of law in Egypt.

“This deal is one of the most expensive financial assistance deals the EU has ever signed off on with a country outside the EU. By failing to ensure the Egyptian authorities adopt clear benchmarks for human rights and rule of law as a pre-condition for funding, the EU is breaking its own rules,” said Eve Geddie, Head of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. 

“Thousands of people including journalists, critics, opposition politicians, peaceful protesters  and human rights defenders are unjustly languishing behind bars, in squalid conditions, for exercising their human rights. The EU must ensure Egypt releases those arbitrarily detained before proceeding with the deal at hand.

“EU leaders must recognize that among the root causes of Egypt’s recurring economic crises is a government that is unaccountable to its people. If Egypt doesn’t respect the rule of law, open up its civic space and lift censorship, billions of EU taxpayers’ money will only contribute to further undermining not only the Egyptian people’s civil and political rights but also their socio-economic ones.”


On 17 March, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, signed off on the EU-Egypt Strategic Partnership with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. This partnership includes €7.4 billion offered by the EU in grants and loans up to the end of 2027.

The investment conference scheduled for 29-30 June in Cairo will be the partnership’s first milestone. European Commission President von der Leyen and President Sisi are expected to attend, along with other high-level officials. The EU is expected to sign major contracts, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding for the transfer of €1 billion in macro financial assistance.

Amnesty International and 15 Egyptian and international human rights organizations presented a three-point guide to the European Commission and member states to uphold international and EU law and to ensure that macro-financial assistance to Egypt granted under EU regulations secures concrete, measurable, structural and timebound human rights progress and reforms in the country.

The guide includes a roadmap for structural reforms, with public, clear, specific and timebound indicators, targets and benchmarks for Egypt to meet its human rights obligations. It calls for Egypt to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Finally, it calls on the Egyptian authorities to open the civic and political space, by respecting the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, including before, during and after the 2025 parliamentary elections.

The conference is part of a wider Strategic Partnership between the EU and Egypt which includes EU investment in migration and border control despite the ongoing wave of arbitrary detentions and forced returns of thousands of Sudanese refugees by Egyptian authorities, including EU-funded forces.