On 10th July 2014, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received answers to two written questions on elections and democratic reform in Egypt.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the preliminary assessment of the European Union’s election observation mission to Egypt on 29 May, which claimed that the presidential election in Egypt was administered in an environment that fell short of the principles of the new constitution.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The European Union election observation mission to Egypt issued a preliminary statement on 29 May. Their headline assessment was “Presidential elections administered in line with the law, in an environment falling short of constitutional principles”. We followed the presidential election closely and staff from our Cairo Embassy took part in the EU’s Electoral Observation Mission. The EU Observation Mission will issue its full report in due course.
The EU Observation Mission reflected concern about the Egyptian public’s ability to express political dissent and exercise freedom of speech or association. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), raised these concerns in the run up to the elections with his Egyptian counterpart, most recently on 14 May, and in a statement on 3 June. We look to President Sisi to take steps to implement the rights contained in Egypt’s constitution by opening up political space, especially with regard to freedom of expression and association.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the European Union’s support for partnership, reforms and inclusive growth and the impact that it is having in consolidating democratic reform and institution-building in Egypt.
Baroness Warsi: The EU has made considerable efforts to support political transition in Egypt since 2011, through its European Neighbourhood Policy and “Support for Partnership, Reforms and Inclusive Growth” (SPRING) funding.
In their report on the 2014 European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) package, ‘Neighbourhood at a Crossroads: Taking Stock of a Year of Challenges’ issued in March 2014, the European External Access Service and Commission found that no significant progress had been made towards the current ENP action plan in 2013 and most of the recommendations made in last year’s report were still relevant. It found that Egypt needed to make improvements in key areas, such as to ensure the constitution is implemented with full respect for human rights, create conditions for an active civil society, and ensure the protection of women’s rights and gender equality. Since this report the EU also provided an Election Observation Mission to monitor Presidential elections in May 2014.
An initial amount of €90 million was allocated in 2011-12 to Egypt from the EU’s SPRING funds, part of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). Subsequent political and human rights developments meant that no further funding from this mechanism was allocated to Egypt at that time.