Von Der Leyen: EU allocates €100 mln to finance Egypt’s food supply

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced yesterday that the EU has allocated 100 million euros (about 104 million U.S. dollars) in “an immediate relief” to Egypt’s food crisis.

In a joint televised press conference with Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday, Von der Leyen said “we stand beside Egypt in this crisis,” in reference to the international grain crisis that resulted from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

The pledged amount to Egypt is part of a 3.13 billion U.S. dollars allocated by the EU to the region for agriculture and irrigation programs.

She also emphasized the importance of expanding the cooperation with Egypt in the field of energy, adding that Egypt could be a model for clean energy and she supports “Egypt transferring into a regional hub for energy trade.”

“We also agreed to cooperate in the field of technical and financial support and investments to develop the infrastructure for the production of green hydrogen as a source of clean energy,” Egypt’s Sisi said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Von der Leyen witnessed the ceremony of signing a framework agreement between the EU, Egypt and Israel to export Israeli gas to Europe via Egypt.

Also, the head of the EU delegation in Egypt, Christian Berger, said in a statement that “the EU will provide €100 million in aid to support Egypt in response to the rise in food prices due to Russia’s war on Ukraine,” without mentioning when the aid will be provided.

“The EU stands with its partners in these difficult times of economic distress caused by Russian aggression,” Berger added.

The decision comes just four days after Cairo requested European support.

On Saturday, Egypt requested European support to face the negative repercussions of the attack launched by Russia on Ukraine on 24 February.

The request came during two phone calls between Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his German and French counterparts, Annalena Baerbock and Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, bringing in 80 per cent of its wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine. As a result of the war, it has witnessed an increase in bread and flour prices.

In its effort to combat the crisis it is facing, Egypt may buy up to 12 million tons of Indian wheat, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources, where one of them stated that “India is in a position to supply high quality wheat to Egypt and meet Egypt’s quality requirements.”

EU, Egypt, Israel sign gas export deal

Israel has signed a natural gas export deal with Egypt and the European Union (EU) during a regional summit in Cairo, as Europe seeks alternative energy supplies to replace Russia’s fuel amid its ongoing war in Ukraine.

The deal, signed on Wednesday, will involve Israeli natural gas being liquefied at Egyptian processing plants and then shipped to Europe, according to Israel’s energy ministry.

The EU – which last year imported about 40 percent of its gas from Moscow – is seeking to secure alternative energy supplies, as it mounts pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“With this agreement we will work on the stable delivery of natural gas to the EU from the East Med region,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Wednesday.

“This will contribute to our energy security. And we are building infrastructure fit for renewables – the energy of the future.”

Von der Leyen said during a visit to Israel on Tuesday that the EU was seeking stronger energy cooperation with Israel, in response to Moscow’s use of gas to “blackmail” EU member states since the Ukraine conflict broke out.

“The Kremlin has used our dependency on Russian fossil fuels to blackmail us,” von der Leyen said during a speech at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba.

“Since the beginning of the war, Russia has deliberately cut off its gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, and Dutch and Danish companies, in retaliation for our support to Ukraine.”

Tarek El-Molla, Egypt’s petroleum minister, said that the deal would lead to further cooperation between the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, whose members include Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Palestine, France and Italy.

After relying on imports for years, Israel began producing natural gas from its offshore gas fields in 2004.

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon over the demarcation of maritime borders have risen in recent days, after the arrival of an Israeli-contracted exploration vessel in a disputed area.