EU grants Egypt aid worth $6.3bn despite anti-austerity protests in Europe

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Egypt’s President Mohammad Mursi meets with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at the presidential palace in Cairo November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency/Handout

The European Union announced on Wednesday it has approved a €5 billion ($6.3 billion) ‘support package’ to Egypt over a two year period to be disbursed through the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), each providing €2 billion ($2.54 billion).

Egypt will receive the remaining €1 billion ($1.27bn) from various European countries.

The announcement was made after a meeting between Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy took place on Wednesday morning.

The EU offered Egypt economic aid of up to €700 million ($902 million) last September when Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and discussed bilateral aid.

Egypt is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $4.5 billion loan by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, workers across the European Union are staging a series of protests and strikes against rising unemployment and austerity measures.

General strikes has halted transport, businesses and schools and led to clashes between police and protesters in Madrid and many other European cities and towns.

Union workers are also planning strikes in Greece, Italy, Belgium, and other countries. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled across the continent.

The European Trade Union Confederation has co-ordinated the Europe-wide action.

Recently, Portugal received a bail out from the so-called troika which was to the tune of €78bn ($100bn). Lisbon will have to meet harsh austerity measures in return.

On the other hand, Greek MPs approved a fifth austerity package that will cut salaries and pensions and guarantee labour-market reforms, as well as a stringent budget for next year.

The measures in return for the next €31.5bn instalment of the bailout funded by the IMF and EU.

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