The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) released a report on Wednesday describing development and reform in Egypt as “complex” and “not without difficulties”.
The document, drafted by the European Commission, assessed how the European Union (EU) and its surrounding partner countries have fared in achieving jointly agreed-upon reform objectives, with a special focus placed on the North African countries of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt and their transitions toward democracy.
The report acknowledged Egypt’s success in handing over power to a civilian government and adopting a new constitution.
“However, the process was controversial and heavily criticised by the opposition, leading to a deeply divisive political crisis,” the report said.
The report listed several concerns about the status of freedoms in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, particularly the freedom of assembly, association and expression, and the freedom of the press.
“In several countries of the neighbourhood, the media continues to suffer from political and economic interference, a lack of diversity and self-censorship,” the report said. “There were many cases of harassment and imprisonment of journalists in Egypt.”
Egyptian civil society also continues to face serious constraints, the report said. These limitations include obstacles to the freedom of movement, lawsuits against NGO leaders, cumbersome administrative procedures, and subjecting the acceptance of financial support to authorisation.
“The freedom of association needs to be guaranteed and new laws on associations must be in line with international human rights standards,” the report said.
Finally, the report stressed the need to strengthen judicial independence in Egypt and reform the country’s security sector. In particular, Egypt should reform the police, lift the state of emergency and reform the penal and military codes to avoid military trials of civilians.
“Democratic institution building will take time, particularly where legal uncertainty still hangs over the transition process,” the report concluded.
The European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday stating that they would withhold funds to Egypt until the government carries out democratic reforms and addresses several human rights issues.