Egypt crisis: EU struggles to agree on response

A suspension of €5bn (£4.24bn) in promised aid to Cairo has been discussed

EU governments are struggling to find a united response to the bloody crisis in Egypt amid calls for a suspension of aid and a block on arms shipments.

Senior diplomats from the 28 European Union countries, meeting in Brussels today, reviewed options before agreeing that foreign ministers should meet to formulate a joint approach on Wednesday.

Although a suspension of €5bn (£4.24bn) in promised aid to Cairo has been discussed in phone calls between the British, French and German leaders, some capitals are urging caution. Any move by Europe to “punish” the military-backed interim government would go down badly – they say – with moderates and pro-Western factions in Egypt.

Speaking before the meeting, the Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain will not take sides amid the “turbulence” in Egypt, which he said he believes could continue for years or even decades. Describing the situation as “very bleak”, Mr Hague told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t agree with military interventions in democratic processes, as we made clear at the time in early July but do we deal with these people as the government of Egypt?... In foreign policy terms these are the people we deal with in power in Egypt; it’s not for us to take sides.”

Today’s meeting of senior foreign policy advisers from EU capitals sought ways to expand on a joint European statement on Sunday which called for political dialogue and warned that fundamental rights “cannot be disregarded, much less washed away in blood”. The meeting ended, as expected, without an agreement.

David Cameron discussed the Egyptian crisis on the telephone on Friday with both the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French President, François Hollande. The French and German leaders also spoke on the telephone.

It is understood that the possibility of a suspension of a €5bn EU aid programme was one of the ideas discussed in these talks. Officials point out, however, that such a decision would bring little practical pressure on the interim government in Cairo. Almost all of the EU aid programme is already frozen because both the government of the deposed President Mohamed Morsi, and the interim government have failed to meet conditions, including a rolling programme of social reform. The only payments being made go directly to pro-democracy civil groups in Egypt.

They also fear that any move by the EU to suspend aid or arms shipments would push Egypt even further into the arms of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who have little interest in seeing democratic institutions in Cairo restored.

The German Chancellor, facing an election next month, has taken the hardest public line. Ms Merkel has hinted at a possible block on shipments of arms.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments