CAIRO - EU leaders have sealed a €7.4bn (£6.3bn) deal with Egypt to help boost the country’s faltering economy, in an attempt to bring stability to the “troubled” region and avert another migration crisis in Europe.

The three-year EU-Egypt strategic partnership involves €5bn in soft loans to support economic changes, €1.8bn to support investments from the private sector and €600m in grants including €200m for migration management.

It comes just days after members of the European parliament accused Brussels of “bankrolling dictators” as a result of a similar deal with Tunisia last year.

Six EU leaders made the trip to Cairo on Sunday after “intense, effective diplomatic work” between the EU and Egypt in the past few months, said the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni.

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, who led the delegation, said the deal underlined the “strategic location” of Egypt in a “very troubled neighbourhood” and the “vital role” it played in the “stability of the region”.

She used the occasion to renew a plea for a ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages and urgent aid for Palestinians. “We are all extremely concerned about the war in Gaza and the unfolding catastrophic humanitarian situation. Gaza is facing famine and we cannot accept this. It is critical to achieve an agreement on a ceasefire rapidly now that frees the hostages and allows more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza,” she said.

She and Meloni were joined in their meeting with the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, by the prime ministers of Greece, Austria, Cyprus and Belgium.

The three-year agreement is part of the bloc’s latest attempt to stop people crossing the Mediterranean but is much broader in scope than last year’s controversial €150m deal with Tunisia.

European governments have long been worried about the risk of instability in Egypt, a country of 106 million people that has been struggling to raise foreign currency. Economic adversity and poverty have pushed increasing numbers to leave the country in recent years.