Motion for a resolution - B7-0095/2013Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in Egypt

6.3.2013 - (2013/2542(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Franziska Katharina Brantner, Judith Sargentini, Raül Romeva i Rueda on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0095/2013

Procedure : 2013/2542(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the situation in Egypt


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt, in particular its resolution of 16 February 2012 on ‘Egypt: recent developments’[1] and its resolution of 15 March 2012 on human trafficking in Sinai[2],

–   having regard to the European Council conclusions on the Arab Spring of 8 February 2013,

–   having regard to the EU-Egypt Task Force Co-Chairs conclusions of 14 November 2012,

–   having regard to the statements by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy after his meetings with President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi on 13 January 2013 and 13 September 2012,

–   having regard to the statements by the Vice President of the Commission / EU High Representative Catherine Ashton of 25 December 2012 on the referendum in Egypt and of 5 December 2012 on the situation in Egypt, and to the statement by her spokesperson of 25 January 2013 on the killings in Port Said,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 1099/2012 of 26 November 2012 amending Regulation (EU) No 270/2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Egypt,

–   having regard to the EU-Egypt Association Agreement of 2004 and the Action Plan of 2007,

–   having regard to the Joint Communication of the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affair and Security Policy to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on ‘A new response to a changing neighbourhood’ of 25 May 2011,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966, to which Egypt is a party,

–   having regard to Rule 110 (2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Egypt is still in the midst of a difficult period of political, economic and social transition after the fall of the Mubarak regime; whereas the expectations and the aspirations of the popular uprising that brought about the regime change must be turned and consolidated into deep and concrete human rights and into democratic reforms that reflect the will and the ambitions of all the democratic components of the Egyptian society;

B.  whereas Egypt is a founding member of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and a key partner of the European Union in the Mediterranean area; whereas political developments in Egypt have a strong impact in and significant implications for the whole region and beyond;

C. whereas the presidential elections held in Egypt in 2012 were considered free and fair by the international community and represented a landmark in the process of democratic transition; whereas, however, Egyptian society continues to be deeply divided over core values such as the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, the relations between state and religion, and good governance;

D. whereas, on 22 November 2012, President Morsi issued a decree that considerably extended his powers by barring the courts from challenging presidential decisions; whereas this decree led to a harsh confrontation with part of the judiciary and the political class; whereas public protests against this decree led to several people being killed or injured; whereas on 8 December 2012 President Morsi revoked most of this decree;

E.  whereas the referendum held in December 2012 , with a voter turnout of 32,9 %, adopted a new constitution for Egypt; whereas the lack of inclusiveness and transparency of the constitutional process, and the anticipated adoption of the new constitution, further deepened internal divisions within Egyptian society; whereas there has been widespread concern, both in Egypt and beyond, about various articles of the new constitution that run counter to Egypt’s international human rights commitment – notably with regards to freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, women’s rights, the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary – while preserving the role of military courts;

F.  whereas parliamentary elections to the House of Representatives, in four rounds, are scheduled to take place from 22 April to June 2013; whereas, on 19 January 2013, the Shoura Council adopted a new election law which provoked criticism and controversy; whereas, on 18 February 2013, the Supreme Constitutional Court found several articles of this law unconstitutional, a ruling which has been followed by further controversies; whereas opposition forces led by the National Salvation Front, protesting against the lack of legal guarantees for free and fair elections, announced a boycott of the forthcoming parliamentary elections;

G. whereas the internal political situation, in the absence of a constructive and inclusive dialogue between religious and secular counterparts, is extremely tense and polarised, and often results in violent incidents; whereas a genuine national dialogue with meaningful participation of all political forces is the recommendable way to overcome the current political and social divisions and to create deep and sustainable democracy in Egypt; whereas calls by opposition forces for the formation of a national unity government have been rejected by President Morsi; whereas on 26 February 2013, President Morsi launched a national dialogue that was boycotted by leading opposition forces;

H. whereas street protests and violent clashes continue in Egypt, most recently in Port Said where four people were killed and hundreds were injured during clashes between protesters and security forces on 2-3 March 2013; whereas state authorities have been unable to restore calm and order; whereas the excessive use of force and violence against peaceful demonstrators by security forces and some political parties, and as well as by unidentified groups, remains largely unpunished;

I.   whereas, on 28 January 2013, the Shoura Council ratified new security measures at the request of President Morsi, including the imposition of a state of emergency in the canal governorates of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said, and the bestowal on Egypt’s armed forces of the authority to safeguard state institutions against saboteurs and to restore security;

J.   whereas Egypt continues to face a worrying economic situation that is aggravated by the loss of income from tourism and foreign direct investment; whereas fiscal consolidation, the restoration of economic and investor confidence – which requires political stability – and the fight against corruption are indispensable to efforts create a strong Egyptian economy; whereas the Egyptian economy needs further support from the international community, including the EU, to meet these challenges,

K. whereas, in this regard, the local currency has lost 8 % of its value and Egyptian Central Bank reserves have been put under pressure, further aggravating an already highly unstable and fragile economic situation; whereas the Egyptian Government is determined to press ahead with negotiations to secure a loan with the International Monetary Fund;

L.  whereas judicial institutions and judges continue to face pressure, attacks, intimidation and interference by various political actors and forces; whereas in November 2012, the Constitutional Court suspended its work due to a sit-in on its premises by supporters of the President and his allies; whereas the sacking of the general prosecutor in October 2012 and the appointment of a new general prosecutor provoked strong criticism from – and demonstrations by – judges, judicial officials and others; whereas the interference in the judiciary undermines the trust of the population in the fairness and impartiality of the judicial system,

M. whereas Egyptian women are in a particularly vulnerable situation in the current period of transition; whereas, according to reports by Egyptian and international human rights organisations, attacks on female protestors, including rape, by unidentified, coordinated groups have recently increased, and have become more organised and systematic, with the aim of discouraging women from joining protests, notably on and after the night of 25 January 2013, and female protestors are often subject to violence, sexual assaults, including virginity tests, in the past, and other forms of degrading treatment, also at the hands of security forces, while women rights activists face threats and harassment; whereas women have witnessed major setbacks in the field of political participation; whereas women in the informal sector, in the fields of agriculture and domestic labour in particular, often work in dangerous and degrading working conditions without health insurance or any protection against injuries;

N. whereas Egyptian civil society and international NGOs face mounting pressure, and encounter major difficulties in operating in Egypt; whereas the draft laws on civil associations and foundations, and on public demonstrations, would, if adopted as currently proposed, deeply undermine their functioning and operations and their right to peaceful public assembly, and would impose severe restrictions on funding from abroad; whereas independent trade unions report increasing pressure on their organisations and members; whereas physical violence and harassment against journalists have increased significantly; whereas a number of legal proceedings have been initiated against opposition media for insulting the President;

O. whereas, on 26 January 2013, a Cairo court sentenced 21 people to death following football riots in Port Said that killed 74 persons in early 2012; whereas in its resolution of 16 February 2012 it called for an independent inquiry into the events leading to the tragedy, and for those responsible to be brought to justice; whereas, however, the EU holds a strong and principled position against the death penalty, and the abolition of the death penalty is a key objective of its human rights policy;

P.  whereas the EU-Egypt Task Force meeting of 13-14 November 2012 took place in Cairo with more than 500 participants – including political leaders, parliamentarians, business leaders, and civil society representatives from both sides – who discussed an exceptionally wide range of issues, such as political and economic co-operation, governance and human rights, asset recovery, trade, tourism, infrastructure, information and communications technologies, and science;

Q. whereas the EU is Egypt’s first economic partner and its main source of foreign investment and development cooperation; whereas at the Task Force meeting, the EU and associated financing institutions offered Egypt grants, concessional loans and loans to a total value of more than EUR 5 billion for the period 2012-2013; whereas the Task Force also announced a doubling of the Egyptian participation in the Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes, with the aim of bringing Egyptian students and researchers to Europe; whereas the honouring of these commitments and the speeding up of the delivery of EU support are of crucial importance for Egypt;

R.  whereas the Task Force underlined its commitment to the promotion of and respect for human rights (including women’s rights and gender equality, with a view to empowering women in all fields), the freedoms of expression and association, and the freedom of religion or belief, and condemned all forms of incitement to religious hatred, intolerance, hostility or violence;

S.  whereas the EU offered to send an election observation mission for the forthcoming parliamentary elections to the House of Representatives, if invited by Egypt; whereas the Egyptian Supreme Committee for Elections has recently decided to accept that these elections be monitored and to invite various international actors, including the EU, to do so;

T.  whereas the return of assets stolen by the former regime can contribute not only in economic terms but also in terms of delivering justice and accountability to the Egyptian people, and is therefore a major political issue of high symbolic importance in the relations between the EU and Egypt; whereas since March 2011, 19 persons responsible for the misappropriation of Egyptian state funds, including former President Mubarak, have had their assets in the EU frozen; whereas the Council adopted on 26 November 2012 a new regulation aimed at facilitating the return of these misappropriated funds; whereas the Task Force has agreed to finalise, within three months, a road map that could include the establishment of an asset-recovery group co-coordinated by the EEAS;

U. whereas the ‘more for more’ principle, and the principle of a partnership with societies, are cornerstones of the EU’s reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy;

1.  Reiterates its solidarity with and support of the Egyptian people in this difficult and challenging period of political, economic and social transition; reaffirms the EU’s continued determination to assist the Egyptian people in this historical transformation process;

2.  Expresses its serious concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt and the lack of resolve of the Egyptian authorities to reverse this worrisome trend; underscores that in line with its revised European Neighbourhood Policy after the Arab Spring, and notably the ‘more for more’ approach, the EU’s level and scope of engagement with Egypt is dependent on progress the country makes in honouring its commitments with regard to democracy, the rule of law, human rights and gender equality;

3.  Urges, in this respect, the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to make assistance, economic integration and other benefits foreseen under the EU-Egypt Task Force, strictly contingent on tangible progress, including through the adoption and implementation of the necessary legislative framework, notably in the areas outlined in the present resolution;

4.  Reiterates its call to the Egyptian authorities to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including: women’s rights; freedom of religion, conscience and thought; protection of minorities; non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation; freedom of association and peaceful assembly; freedom of expression and speech; and freedom of the press and media, which are essential components of deep and sustainable democracy; calls, in this context, for the transparent and inclusive development of a national plan for human rights reform in the country;

5.  Stresses the importance of the forthcoming elections to the House of Representatives, which will constitute a further milestone in the democratic transition process; recalls the importance of abiding by international standards for democratic elections and of allowing the presence of domestic and international election observers; encourages the Egyptian Government and all political forces to seize the forthcoming elections as an opportunity to develop a critically needed, broad and inclusive national dialogue; welcomes the decision of the Egyptian Supreme Committee for Elections to invite the EU to monitor the forthcoming parliamentary elections;

6.  Takes note of the adoption of the new Egyptian Constitution by referendum on 15 and 22 December 2012; recalls the concerns expressed by a large number of Egyptian observers that a number of provisions in the new Constitution would be at odds with the country’s international human rights commitments; considers that a more inclusive and participative constitutional process could have contributed to a broader consensus being reached in the divided Egyptian society on the fundamental political framework needed for the country’s future;

7.  Is alarmed by the increasing level of internal polarisation within Egyptian society, which is further fuelled by continued violent incidents and a climate of impunity; reminds the Egyptian state authorities and security forces of their duty to protect the right to peaceful assembly, and to uphold security and order in strict compliance with domestic legislation and international principles regarding law enforcement practices; calls for an impartial investigation into all acts of violence, including those reported to have been committed by law enforcement agents, and for bringing the perpetrators to justice; calls, in this context, on the Member States, in relation to Egypt, to abide strictly by the Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment, notably with regards to criterion 2 on respect for human rights;

8.  Views with serious concern the negative indicators with regard to the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the fight against torture in Egypt; calls on the Egyptian Government to fully respect, support and promote the independence and integrity of judicial institutions in the country; encourages the Egyptian authorities to initiate a genuine process of transitional justice with a view to ensuring accountability for human rights violations committed before, during and after the 2011 revolution;

9.  Echoes the deep concern expressed by Egyptian civil society activists regarding the draft laws on civil associations and foundations and on demonstrations, which, if adopted, would further reduce the operational space of civil society in the country; urges the Egyptian Government to engage in a genuine public consultation process, and to submit new draft legislation which complies with Egypt’s international human rights commitments and which ensures, inter alia, an enabling environment for civil society organisations and for the peaceful expression of dissent; calls for an end to government interference and to any form of pressure, intimidation or harassment against civil society and trade union activists, as well as against journalists;

10. Expresses deep concern with regards the prevailing climate of violence against women in Egypt and the lack of progress with regards gender equality in practice and in law; calls for an immediate end to all forms of sexual harassment and gender-based violence, including against female protesters and women’s rights activists, for genuine and impartial investigations into all such crimes, and for bringing perpetrators to justice; calls on the Egyptian authorities to adapt the necessary framework to address violence against women, and to publicly condemn this phenomenon, including at the highest level; urges the Government to promote and support the political participation of women by reversing the current negative trend in this field;

11. Reiterates its concern about the continuing human smuggling and trafficking and about the situation of irregular migrants in the country, notably in the Sinai region; calls on the Egyptian authorities to intensify further their efforts to address these issues, not least by implementing fully national legislation on refugees and by granting UN agencies and human rights organisations full access to the individuals concerned in Sinai;

12. Reiterates the EU’s strong and principled position against the death penalty and calls for a full moratorium on any death sentence cases in Egypt; urges Egypt to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of death penalty; calls for the death sentences handed down on 26 January 2013 to 21 supporters of the Al-Masry football club to be commuted;

13. Regrets the lack of tangible progress with regard to the return to the people of Egypt of assets misappropriated by the former regime; urges the EEAS and the Member States to treat this important symbolic and financial matter with the due attention, and calls on the EU to establish a group of investigators, lawyers and prosecutors from the Member States tasked with providing legal support and assistance to Egyptian authorities in this process;

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and the President, Government and Shoura Council of Egypt.