8th meeting of the EU-Egypt Association Council on 20 December 2018

Letter to

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility

Johannes Hahn, European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations

Dear Vice-President,

Dear Commissioners,

The next EU-Egypt Association Council meeting, scheduled for 20 December, will primarily focus on implementing the 2017-2020 Partnership Priorities adopted on 16 June 2017.

It is in this context that, last month, regional and international NGOs and trade unions carried out an assessment of developments in Egypt over 2017 and 2018 and noted a serious deterioration in the human rights situation.

The socio-economic situation calls for urgent reforms. For example, freedom of the press and freedom of expression are restricted, dissidents and human rights organisations are repressed and, moreover, there continue to be many instances of torture, forced disappearances and summary executions, the latter being carried out with complete impunity. The use of the death penalty and mass trials is also increasing. Added to this is the lack of real progress in freedom of religion and in many other areas.

In addition, state repression against independent trade unions intensified in 2018, as witnessed by arbitrary attacks and arrests as well as the implementation of Trade Union Law no. 2013/2017, which violates the ILO conventions on the rights of trade unions and the right of association.

More specifically, this legislation prevents any attempt by people to organise themselves freely by perpetuating one organisation’s monopoly, preventing workers from freely joining the trade union of their choice and by preventing workers’ organisations from carrying out their activities, adopting their constitutions and electing their representatives.

In fact, the Egyptian government continues to ignore repeated calls from the ILO and its Committee on the Application of Standards to bring this law into line with the provisions of Conventions 87 and 98. Furthermore, the trade union elections held in 2018 were characterised by a process of exclusion and widespread disqualification of independent trade unions.

At the same time, the police and armed forces cracked down on peaceful demonstrations and arrested and manhandled protesters, even going so far as to make “preventive” arrests. In 2017 alone, there were 399 incidents involving violence, intimidation and retaliatory measures against workers and leaders and members of independent trade unions.

We therefore ask you to ensure that the recommendations, included in the EU Declaration in view of the Council meeting, explicitly require the compliance of Trade Union Law no. 2013/2017 with the ILO’s core standards and the above-mentioned conventions, as well as an end to the above-mentioned actions targeting independent trade unions and their members.

Thanking you in advance,

Mustapha Tlili

Luca Visentini


Adopted 14.12.2018