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Brussels fast-tracks migration deal with Cairo amid Gaza migration fears

The European Commission is set to conclude a 'cash for migrant control' deal with President El Sisi as regional crisis escalates

As regional tensions rise, European Commission officials are urgently trying to finalise a 'cash for migration control' deal with President Abdel Fattah el Sisi's government.

Brussels is likely to offer cash job creating projects and to help the country's green transition, although details are sparse on how the funds will be allocated.

Talks with Cairo on a pact where the EU would offer financial support in exchange for more control over migration date back several months but the war in Gaza. The prospect of more migration from the Middle East due to the conflict, has increased the urgency (AC Vol 64 No 21, Commission divided over Cairo).

The EU executive has been divided over what to offer President El Sisi. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Vice-President Margaritis Schinas have been bullish about striking migration control deals modelled on their July agreement with Tunisia. Yet this looks shaky after President Kaïs Saïed returned a payment of €60 million to the Commission (AC Vol 64 No 19, Heart of the migration storm).

Others, including EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, point to human rights abuses in Egypt. EU officials worry about the effects of the Israel-Hamas war on the bloc's relations with North Africa where there have been mass protests in support of the Palestinian cause over the past two weeks and criticism of western policy.

Egypt controls Gaza's only non-Israeli border, which includes the Rafah crossing. This is becoming a focal point for Palestinian refugees fleeing Gaza as Israel prepares to accelerate its military operations against Hamas.

European Commission and Egyptian officials moved their negotiations forward on the margins of a peace summit hosted in Cairo on 21 October. Von der Leyen is expected to brief EU leaders at a two day European Council summit in Brussels starting on 26 October.

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