The European Union is the world’s biggest trading power, made up of 27 sovereign member countries and a population of half a billion. It works with its neighbors to achieve prosperity, democratic progress, the rule of law and human rights. Three institutions within the EU are of particular importance: the European Parliament, which represents the EU citizens, the Council of the European Union, which represents the individual member states, and the European Commission, which seeks to uphold the interests of the EU as a whole. This ‘institutional triangle’ produces laws and policies that apply throughout the EU.
The European Union was established over decades, with its origin in the Council of Europe created in 1949. The Council of Europe was established by Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to increase cooperation between their heavy industries. Over the decades, it grew in number and new agreements were made in different economic sectors. Today the EU consists of a ‘Single Market’ and its people can freely move between the countries due to the ‘Shengen’ agreements. The common currency is the Euro.
More detailed information on EU history: http://europa.eu/abc/history/index_en.htm
The 27 EU member countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
More information on members, candidates and potential candidate countries: http://europa.eu/about-eu/member-countries/index_en.htm
The trend towards more globalised production systems, coupled with trade liberalization (under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation, WTO) has given significant impetus for businesses to serve more distant markets. This growth has not been restricted to trade in goods, as technological and regulatory changes have also promoted a rapid expansion of trade in various services (such as financial, business, communication and information services).
This pattern has been reinforced within Europe through the establishment of the single market and a range of bilateral trade agreements with non-member countries. Indeed, the EU is the world’s largest trading bloc and external trade has played a dynamic role in boosting its economic growth for many decades.
For detailed information on the work of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade please consult: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/index_en.htm
The EU and Egypt
Egypt is the number one recipient of Foreign Direct Investments in the Mediterranean region. In 2008 EU direct investment in Egypt (stocks) increased 40% up to €20.2 billion, from €12.3 billion in 2007. That stock is almost half the EU total stock in the region of €43.3 billion.
From 1970 till end of February 2011, the UK is the number one cumulative net investor in Egypt with a total net stock of US$ 5.393 billion. Eight other EU member states share with it the top 30 list with a total of 4052 projects constituting 34% of the total net stock for the top 30 countries, namely, France, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, and Belgium.
European Investment Bank (EIB)
EIB is by far the first investor in the Mediterranean ten countries, where to date, using an EC grant element, it has invested over € 22.772 billion encompassing loans, private equity and technical assistance. Egypt has had the largest share exceeding € 5,573 billion, which is spread amongst the key sectors of energy, environment, industry, transport and support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
In 2010 alone, EIB investment in Egypt reached a record € 906 million where it provided € 300 million for Giza North power plant, € 260 million Egyptian power transmission (both facilitated by € 20m EU grant under the Neighbourhood Investment Facility and with extra KfW and AFD funding), and € 346 million loan for the Egyptian Refining Company.
The EU and Egypt have made significant progress in freeing up trade between them. Since the entry into force of the EU-Egypt Association Agreement in 2004, half of the EU industrial exports to Egypt has already been liberalised and special preferential treatment for agriculture has significantly boosted agricultural trade. Subsequent negotiations (concluded in 2009) have furthered the liberalisation of agricultural, processed agricultural and fisheries products, and ongoing negotiations aim at improving conditions for services trade and for companies seeking to establish businesses in both markets.
Trade in Goods between the EU and Egypt has risen substantially after the entry into force of the EU-Egypt Association Agreement in 2004. Today the EU is Egypt's number 1 trade partner sharing 31.2% of Egypt's total trade and absorbing 29.9% of Egypt's exports. On the other hand, Egypt is the 28th EU trade partner. Likewise, the same applies to trade in services where the EU shares 33.5% of Egypt's total trade in services and absorbs 37.3% of its exports.
Human Resources Development
For over a century, EU member states have been contributing to high quality basic education in Egypt through tens of British, French, German, Italian, Irish, Spanish, and Dutch schools. That is besides a host of EU and member states projects for Education enhancement and Modernization.
Likewise, EU vocational education and training dates back to 1896 when the first Italian Don Bosco was established in Alexandria followed by another in Cairo in 1926. Then in 1996 came the Mubarak Khol Initiative introducing the German dual system, which today has 76 vocational schools in 22 Governorates offering training for 32 occupations in partnership with 1900 companies, besides 21 regional units within the private sector organising decentralised training. Then the EU came in 2005 with the flagship, TVET, that is developing national regulatory and support institutions for a decentralised and demand-driven TVET system, providing capacity building, and established a network of geographic and sectorial enterprise partnerships through a PPP mechanism.
EU university education started in 1992 with the establishment of the German University in Cairo (GUC) in cooperation with the State Universities of Ulm and Stuttgart. That was followed in 2002 by l’Université Française d’Égypte in partnership with Université Paris 3 "Sorbonne Nouvelle" and l’université de Nantes, then in 1998 the British University in Egypt (BUE) with a group of UK universities led by Loughborough University. That is besides the Italian UniNettuno, and a host of EU institutions offering language training, exchanges and post graduate studies in the EU led by the British Council, the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD), Centre Français de Culture et de Coopération (CFCC), Istituto Italiano di Cultura, the Swedish Institute, Danish Agency for International Education, the Netherlands Fellowship Programme, the Study in Finland programme, the Hungarian Scholarship Board as well as the various EU programmes including ENP scholarships for graduates, TEMPUS, and Erasmus Mundus, EIB FEMIP Internships Programme just to name a few.
That is augmented by R&D initiatives inclusive the Research, Development and Innovation Programme (RDI), the regional MEDIBTIKAR (Euro-Med Innovation and Technology Programme), and a host of projects under the sixth and seventh framework programmes for research and technological development (FP6 & FP7).
Besides 739 investment projects worth a total net investment of US$ 1,041.9 million, as well as the management of most hotels in Egypt, the EU is the number one provider of tourists to Egypt. A total of 6,324,849 EU tourists visited Egypt in 2009 constituting 50.45% of the total tourist arrivals in Egypt. The main source is UK, Germany and Italy, and the average increase for 2010 over 2009 was 9.1% except for Sweden and Poland where it exceeded 30%.
On number of Touristic nights, Germany and UK take the lead with over 14 million nights, followed by Italy 9.9 million, France 5.2 million and Poland 4.5 million.
Since Barcelona, the EU has put development cooperation for the Mediterranean countries at the forefront. Such cooperation escalated every five years to reach its peak under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) with its various instruments. Moreover, the regional element also increased to reach 5% through a host of regional projects as well as the new Cross Border cooperation CBC.
Such cooperation aimed at the creation of an area of peace, stability and prosperity. Hence it has focused in Egypt, through a host of projects on democracy, human rights and justice; competitiveness and productivity of the Egyptian economy; and better management of human and natural resources.
Instruments used included besides classical technical assistance, included among others, Twinning with EU institutions, Budget and sector support for speedy reforms, Investment co-financing, TAIEX, ..etc.
Business support included direct technical assistance and finance for SMEs; upgrading of various productive sectors; reform and modernization of trade, industry, energy, transport, agriculture, environment, customs, financial and banking sectors; approximation of standards and specifications; human resources development both vocational and basic education; innovation, science and technology; and information.
Around 5% of the total allocation was for regional projects. The most relevant is the Invest in Med project that is promoting trade and investment between European and Mediterranean businesses through sectorial studies, training, conferences, and B2B activities. That is besides major elements of other projects targeting innovation, energy, transport, environment, and information.
In support to the developments in the region, an extra € 1 billion shall be added to EIB loans and the mandate of the EBRD has been amended to include the Mediterranean with an allocation of € 1 billion. Moreover, around € 300 million are being allocated for SME funding.