Egypt Country profile 2013 - 2018

This country profile summarizes the findings of the Social Rights Monitor carried out in Egypt between 2013 and 2018. The Social Rights Monitor is a tool developed by SOLIDAR members and partners to allow partner organizations and allies based in the country to assess the situations in terms of social protection, decent work and an enabling environment and track the progress made since the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the partnership priorities established with the EU. Most of the reports have been developed in the framework of a regional programme “Mobilizing for Social Justice: Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa region” led by SOLIDAR.

Concerning the case of Egypt, the social rights monitor has shown that whereas social protection has been allocated 40% of the total budget of the Single Support Framework, whereas civil society in Egypt is considered “important for democratic and economic development and to help build political stability” and whereas inclusive growth and job creation in Egypt is acknowledged by the partnership, civil society perceives that the relationship between the Egyptian government and the EU is mainly based on financial interests and focuses on achieving security, overriding the promotion of human rights, prosperity and democracy.

Indeed, the Civicus Monitor that tracks civil society space, is rating Egypt as ‘closed’ (1/5). In spite of a large, vibrant and outspoken civil society, the Egyptian state’s respect for human rights and civic freedoms remains at an acute crisis point.

The 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index also classifies Egypt within the World’s Ten Worst Countries for Workers, notably because of State repression, discriminations and mass arrest.

Respondents to our last social monitor also emphasize the lack of a proper social protection including adequate health care and education policies.

In light of it, our recommendations towards the EU and its European Neighborhood Policy are to:

  • Promote an enabling environment enhancing civil society and independent trade unions rights
  • Promote universal social protection to decrease poverty
  • Promote public investment in public services to ensure accessible and quality health and education services
  • Promote education and employment policies matching country’s needs
  • Promote decent work and the respect of ILO Conventions
  • Remain committed to adopting a human rights based approach in its relation with Egypt

 

SOCIAL RIGHTS MONITOR – SUMMARY

2013

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2013 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (2) Freedom of expression and information; (3) Democratic transition and civil dialogue; (4) Respect for labour rights and decent work; (5) Access and coverage of quality services; (6) Ensuring income support.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Health sector quality not improving
  • Poverty increase concerning 26% of Egyptians

Decent Work

  • Promised minimum wage law not passed
  • 33% of youth unemployed
  • Gender employment discriminations

Freedom of Association

  • New law restricting the right to association: harder CSOs registration processes, control of memberships and partnerships, limitation of activities being carried out by foreign NGOs, permission needed for receiving funds from abroad    
  • Plurality of trade unions forbidden
  • New law restricting protest activities: use of platforms, tents, banners and slogans restricted by national or local authorities
  • Unprecedented level of attacks against women and female human rights defenders  
  • Workers on strike assaulted by state forces and employers

2014

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2014 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy 2014 and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs); (2) Ability to establish associations and their access to funding; (3) Participation in decision-making processes (including EU delegations); (4) Setup of social protection floors; (5) growing informal economy and indecent work; (6) Respect for migrant workers’ rights

Key fact-findings

Social protection 

  • Low quality education
  • Education budget decrease by 10-12% in the last 5 years
  • Low quality health services despite EU funds
  • Land expropriations
  • 7% decrease on agricultural subsidies
  • End of government subsidies on food or petroleum without mitigation measures
  • Ineffective housing plans
  • New VAT low burdening low income households

Decent Work

  • High levels of unemployment especially amongst youths

Freedom of Association

  • Deteriorated relationship between authorities and CSOs
  • Ministry of Interior able to deny demonstrations authorizations
  • Hundreds of protesters sentenced to prisons or high fines (6000€)
  • Many decisions taken without public consultations nor parliament’s approval

2015

SOLIDAR, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), and the Euromed Non-Governmental Platform invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to comment the 2015 Progress Report developed by the EU on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The purpose is to see how the ENP, and its related programming documents, include (or not) the promotion of social protection for all or any of the following benchmarks and indicators: (1) Improving equitable access to essential services; (2) Ensuring Income security; (3) Promoting a Rights Based Approach to Social Protection; (4) Freedom of association; (5) Financing Social Protection.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Poverty and inequalities exacerbated by human rights violations and austerity measures
  • Unequal access to basic services
  • Low coverage of health insurance
  • Decreasing health budget
  • Poor quality VET
  • Increased school drop-outs and illiteracy rates
  • 10% pensions increase

Decent Work

  • Long term unemployment
  • Labour marginalization of women, youth and rural populations
  • Large informal sector
  • Lack of effective policies to generate job opportunities both in public and private sector

Freedom of Association

  • Serious violations of freedom of association
  • Lack of social dialogue and consultations on major new legislations
  • Plurality of unions not recognized by the constitution  
  •  Forced disappearances  

2018

Consultations with civil society organizations, including SOLIDAR members and project partners, have been conducted within the seven countries covered by the project ‘Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa: Mobilizing for Social Justice by strengthening and promoting CSOs, social movements and independent trade unions’ role in reforms and democratic changes’. Qualitative feedback was collected on the basis of a questionnaire, the so-called ‘Social Rights Monitor’, offering room for civil society organizations and independent trade unions to explain and provide input along three dimensions, namely social protection, decent work and freedom of association. It includes the following indicators: (1) Access to essential services in particular health care; (2) Income security; (3) Poverty reduction and opportunities; (4) labour rights and working conditions; (5) Employment; (6) Social dialogue; (7) Civil society space; (8) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (9) Freedom of expression; opinion; and rights to information.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Increase of health services costs due to private sector’s involvement and IMF and World Bank recommendations
  • Worsening situation of pensioners
  • Inadequate social protection measures under last IMF deal
  • Worsening situation for the poorest having suffered from subsidies cuts
  • Gap between labour market and education policies

Decent Work

  • High unemployment rates
  • Increasing informal labour 
  • Existing mandatory minimum wage (50€) except in the private sector   
  • Poor working conditions especially in polluting industries
  • Lack of decent work conditions  (which is the main reason for labour protests in Egypt)
  • Investments encouraged at the expense of decent work conditions
  • Business sector exempted from tax and not held accountable for workers’ rights violations

Freedom of Association

  • Protesters arrested and tried in military courts
  • Egypt blacklisted by ILO over failure to issue a new trade union law in line with ILO Convention 87  
  • NGO laws including sanctions reaching 5-year imprisonment, 1 million Egyptian Pounds
  • Formal authorization needed to conduct researches and edit publications
  • 300,000 Egyptians pound needed to register
  • Responsible body to give authorizations includes army and intelligence services representatives
  • Travel bans and asset freeze imposed to many Human Rights defenders
  • Absence of enabling environment and violations of fundamental freedoms observed by the 36th UN Human Rights Council
  • Conference room renting for political parties or labour unions prevented by government to block peaceful meetings

​​Useful links:

 

Ec disclaimer 01