Volume 24 (2019) / Issue 4
The European Union (EU) was unsure how to react to the 2013 military coup in Egypt. It had pledged to end unconditional cooperation with despotic rulers in its Southern neighbourhood, but deemed a popular military regime more capable of stabilizing the country. The Egyptian leadership’s main concern, in turn, has always been regime survival. Initially, this meant warding off the most pressing domestic challenges by silencing all opposing voices and manifesting its power grip; an endeavour for which it did not consider the EU to be helpful. As a consequence, relations cooled down, but both sides began to reach out to each other shortly thereafter. This article describes and explains the gradual rapprochement by tracing how and why the EU’s and Egypt’s perceptions, priorities and policies changed over time. It argues that the EU sought closer relations due to the accelerating migration challenge and terrorist threat as well as Egypt’s strategy to diversify its foreign relations and underscore the country’s importance. Once it had regained control over the domestic setting, the Egyptian government, in turn, shifted its attention to overcoming the economic crisis, which it perceives as the main threat to regime survival in the long-run. Hereby, the EU shall play a key role.
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