On her visit to Cairo, Egypt, EU Commission President von der Leyen signed a joint statement with Egyptian President al Sisi and a Memorandum of Understanding with Egyptian and Israeli counterparts on June 15.
The European – Egyptian joint statement referred to the fact that Egypt is hosting this years climate summit COP 27. Both sides agreed to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement and pursue decidedly the energy transition. In the statement, the sides also “acknowledged the new geopolitical and energy market reality” and welcomed the MoU.
The Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the Israeli Minister of Energy and by the representative of the European Commission signed the MoU on “Cooperation related to trade, transport and export of natural gas to the European Union”.
The three sides agreed in the MoU to “work collectively towards enabling a stable delivery of natural gas to the EU (…) inter alia via the use of the LNG infrastructure in the Arab Republic of Egypt”.
An according plan shall be formulated for efficient utilization of infrastructure, while a road map is prepared to ensure the necessary governmental and regulatory approvals. The MoU states that the EU will “encourage” European companies to invest in natural gas exploration and extraction in Israel and Egypt, including “exploring ways to make funds available”.
Von der Leyen: Egypt will become “regional energy hub”
In the press conference, von der Leyen stated:
“It is known that Russia’s war against Ukraine has exposed our European dependency on Russian fossil fuels. And we want to get rid of this dependency. We want to diversify to trustworthy suppliers. And Egypt is a trustworthy partner. (…)Here, gas will be liquefied and then transported to the European Union. This is a big step forward in the energy supply to Europe, but also for Egypt to become a regional energy hub.”
Israeli Minister: “historic” agreement
Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said the signing of the MOU had cemented Israel’s role on the global energy stage.
“This is a tremendous moment in which little Israel is becoming a significant player in the global energy market,” she said. She called the deal “historic,” including in terms of the Israeli-Egyptian cooperation involved, adding Elharrar said the deal came about in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as reports the Times of Israel.
The Egyptian Minister El-Molla described the deal as “an important milestone” for cooperation between Egypt, Israel, and the EU.
He said it will lead to further cooperation between members of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which comprises Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, France and Italy.
The Memorandum leaves officially other ways of exporting gas to Europe, such as the East Med pipeline or a pipeline via Türkiye untouched.
Turkish state news agency Anadolu presented an interview with Michael Harari, retired ambassador and policy fellow at the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies (Mitvim), who said the agreement would affect the talks between Israel and Türkiye even positively:
“Europe’s natural gas demand is increasing. The importance of this MoU is that it will encourage more investments for drilling in the region – and for Israel, it is on its EEZ – for more discoveries that will enable more exports. This will enable substantial Israeli-Turkish discussions,” Hariri said.
The East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which includes Greece and Southern Cyprus in addition to Israel and Egypt, welcomed the memorandum, which in fact was signed during the EGMF’s ministerial meeting.
During the forum’s meeting, Egyptian President El-Sisi highlighted EMGF possible roles in achieving economic development in the region through resolving the global energy crisis, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.