"We have to give the people of Egypt all our support," said French MEP Jean-Paul Besset (Greens/European Free Alliance).
MEPs are set to discuss Egypt during their plenary session today before adopting a resolution tomorrow.
He believes Europe must give Egypt financial and economic support but also provide democratic expertise.
"We have to be present during the elections," declared Belgian MEP Saïd El Khadraoui (Socialists & Democrats), vice-president of the Parliament's delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries. "Europe must support a free and pluralist ballot."
The leader of the liberals in the European Parliament (ALDE), Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, wants the EU to give Egypt the means to build democratic institutions and to combat corruption. "We also have to support civil society and economic reconstruction," he said.
Go with the flow
Frenchman Besset complained that European diplomacy had been slow and insufficient. "European governments have been very weak. They did not take many risks, instead they went with the flow," he said.
German MEP Elmar Brok (European People's Party) also admitted that European diplomacy had been "a little slow" and that the EU now had to support the transition to democracy.
"The European Union reacted a little late," said El Khadraoui, acknowledging that the speed of events had surprised everyone. "Europe was not prepared," he said.
El Khadraoui expressed hope that governments would now consult with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and speak with one voice. However, he admitted that the words of the EU would have had little impact on the ground and would have changed very little of what happened.
Some MEPs wondered whether the Parliament's resolution would be enough in the context of the situation in Egypt.
But El Khadraoui believes the EU assembly is capable of adopting a strong position and argued in favour of the EU "rethinking its neighbourhood policy".
"Respect of human rights must become a condition for receiving financing," he said, calling on the EU not to speak just to governments, but also to civil society.
Brok expressed similar sentiments. "Our neighbourhood policy is not sufficiently clear. We must concentrate more on the political, economic and social development of countries," he said.
Today, Ashton will address MEPs prior to their debate. Among the issues she is expected to raise is the freezing of Hosni Mubarak's European assets.
Her spokeswoman said on Monday (14 February) that the EU would wait for a request from Cairo before taking action.
The Egyptian authorities have already asked France, Germany and the UK to halt all the bank transactions of the former Egyptian president. On a visit to Tunisia and the Middle East yesterday (15 February) she said she wanted to go to Egypt "as soon as possible".
Verhofstadt expects Ashton to look beyond the Egyptian question. "We must have a clear position on the movements that are gathering in the countries of the region. We can't commit the same mistake as with Egypt and Tunisia: we must help these movements."
The debate on the situation in Egypt and the adoption of a resolution on Thursday (17 February) should not be very confrontational. "Now that Mubarak is gone, the discussions will be easier and our agreement facilitated," said El Khadraoui.