Egypt – annual report 2020

Strategic Framework 

Legal Policy Starting Point 

Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world. Located geographically between Africa and the Middle East, it plays an important role in the region’s security and economy. In the Middle East conflict, for example, it mediates between Israel and Hamas. This political, economic and military significance, as well as the low median age of Egypt’s population, present great potential for development.

The country is nevertheless facing huge challenges. A national state of emergency has been in place since April 2017, giving extended powers of intervention to the security forces and military. The Egyptian government justifies the curtailment of citizens’ fundamental rights with terrorist threats residing in the country and the tense foreign policy situation in the region. Moreover, a constitutional amendment was adopted in April 2019 that included significant encroachments into the separation of powers, further strengthening of military control over civilian life and a change in the President’s term of office. This enables the current President al-Sisi to remain in power until 2030. His influence over the judiciary was also widened, giving him far-reaching powers to appoint to senior judicial offices and in budgetary matters of the judiciary.

Egypt has also been severely affected by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public life was left paralysed by a lockdown lasting several weeks. International tourism, one of the most important sources of income for millions of Egyptians, has virtually come to a standstill. This was followed by a steady rise in unemployment and poverty, further exacerbating social tension and political conflict within the country. Protests have become more frequent since September 2020. Here, the steadily deteriorating living conditions as well as the widespread corruption in the country are the points of contention, and many people are also calling for al-Sisi’s resignation. The government has responded with repression and further curtailments of the freedoms of assembly and expression.

Overall Concept 

Setbacks in the development of the rule of law in Egypt since al-Sisi came to power in 2014 led to the suspension of cooperation between the Egyptian judiciary and IRZ in 2015. Cooperation resumed in 2019 on the topic of “Protection of women in and through the judiciary” following discussions with the Egyptian Ministry of Justice. Successful completion of this project, which was funded by the Federal Foreign Office, created a positive and trusting foundation for future cooperation with the Ministry of Justice. Plans were hatched to successively expand cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Justice in 2020. In particular, measures were envisaged in the areas of basic and further training for Egyptian judges and consumer protection. However, previously organised in-person events in Cairo in spring 2020 had to be cancelled at short notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The associated lockdown and extensive restructuring measures within the Egyptian Ministry of Justice impeded communication. It was not possible to hold the planned events in an online format due to a lack of Egyptian authorisation.

Project funded by the European Union

EU Twinning Project: “Supporting and upgrading the institutional, technical and raising awareness capabilities of the Egyptian Patent Office (EGPO)”

Acting as a junior partner to the Danish Patent and Trademark Offices and under the leadership of the Spanish organisation FIIAPP (International and Ibero-American Foundation of Administration and Public Policies), IRZ has been supporting Egypt since January 2020 within the framework of the Twinning Project for the protection of intellectual property. Most of the measures planned for 2020 needed to be rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the project was put on hold for several months.

The of this project is to improve the capacities of the EGPO in cooperation with Egyptian colleagues in many areas. This will be achieved by developing an intellectual property strategy and providing information sharing mechanisms for the EGPO, as well as by preparing a general overview of strategies, policies and mechanisms in the field of “intellectual property”. A planned education campaign on the topic of “Intellectual property in Egypt’s public and private sectors” will build on this strategy.

A basic training programme will seek to improve professional competencies among the EGPO staff. Within this framework, IRZ experts will identify training requirements in each EGPO department and prepare an analysis of procedures and individual work stages. The findings of this analysis will be used to draft recommendations for restructuring individual departments and for changing workflows within the EGPO.

Implementation of the project aims to improve the performance of the EGPO and to bring it in line with the standards of similar patent offices in the EU. Improved use of the patent system will lead to better and stronger protection for Egyptian innovations.


IRZ is making efforts to restore contact with the Egyptian Ministry of Justice in response to the faltering cooperation during 2020. Depending on the political situation and ongoing development of pandemic activity in Egypt, IRZ plans to continue cooperation with stakeholders within the Egyptian judiciary in 2021. The measures that were cancelled in 2020 will be rescheduled. There are also plans to strengthen cooperation with civil society organisations on issues relating to human rights.

Overall, continued cooperation will depend on whether and to what extent it will be possible to support development of the rule of law. IRZ will therefore continue to monitor the situation in Egypt and coordinate future measures with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Federal Foreign Office.