Egypt One Year On: EU Must Rethink What We Offer, How We Offer It and Who We Engage

On February 1, 2012, the European Parliament held a public hearing on Egypt's bumpy transition to democracy. MEP members of the PN, Franziska Brantner and Ana Gomes were among the speakers.

Police crack down and public protest is once again spreading across Egypt. The spark for the recent unrest was the death of seventy-four people in Port Said after riots broke out at a football match on 2nd February. Military rule, individual rights, NGO laws and the difficult transition to a democratic Egypt were key areas of discussion in a public hearing on Egypt on 1st February 2012. MEPs Franziska Brantner, Graham Watson and Ana Gomes, Hugues Mingarelli of the European External Action Service, Dr Michelle Pace and Professor Mark Webber of the University of Birmingham and Dr Badr Abdel Atty of the University of Cairo discussed the challenges of EU democracy promotion in Egypt.

Ms Brantner was clear that the “best method for economic prosperity in Egypt is to beat corruption” also within the military government. She challenged Dr Abdel Atty’s claims that allowing foreign NGOs to invest in Egypt without authorization was “frankly absurd.” Public opinion may now be leading in some areas in Egypt, she said, but the real question is “does public opinion lead in freedom? The answer is no.”

Ms Brantner called for the EU to move more quickly and with conviction. She questioned whether the free trade agreement offered would have “an impact on individuals” and how a Macro-economic agreement could be guaranteed to reach those unemployed who need it most. “There are doubts,” she said, “and they should be taken seriously.” She was adamant that the EU must demonstrate it has learnt the lesson of double standards through actions not words and supported Mr Mingarelli’s statement that “there can be no democracy without a vibrant civil society.” Ultimately, Ms Brantner concluded that the EU must “Rethink what we offer, how we offer it and who we involve in negotiations” only then will we effectively support the rights individual Egyptians protest, and are dying, for.

Source: Franziska Brantner homepage

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