EU says not rethinking Egypt aid after Mursi ouster

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 04, 2013 8:54 AM

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union said on Thursday it had no plans to reconsider its aid programs to Egypt after the army ousted President Mohamed Mursi, but EU sources said the aid hinged on its progress in moving towards democracy.

Egypt's military removed Mursi on Wednesday after mass protests against his one-year rule. The head of Egypt's Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, was sworn in on Thursday as the interim head of state.

"I am not aware of any urgent plans to rethink our aid programs at the moment but... the dust is still settling on what happened last night," Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told reporters.

Earlier this year, the EU offered a maximum of 5 billion euros ($6.49 billion) in grants and loans to Egypt over a two-year period, but the money is tied to progress on reforms and a democratic transition.

Since 2012, the EU has approved no budgetary support for Egypt because of insufficient progress on reforms and only relatively small sums have been given to non-governmental organizations, an EU source said.

The potential 5 billion euros "is designed to help them with the transition (to democracy). Obviously if transition is not going on, they will not be able to draw this money, but at this stage it is very premature to say we are stopping or that we are continuing the payments," the source said.

Mann avoided repeated questions on whether the EU considered what had happened in Egypt to be a military coup.

"The most important thing is that all parties in Egypt stay calm, begin a dialogue and above all else return to the democratic process as soon as possible," he said.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Gareth Jones)