Tunisia and the EU sign a “strategic partnership” on the economy and migration policy

Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on July 16, 2023. TUNISIAN PRESIDENCY / REUTERS

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen talks about a deal to “invest in shared prosperity”.

The European Union and Tunisia signed on Sunday July 16 in Tunis a memorandum of understanding for a “comprehensive strategic partnershipon the fight against illegal immigration, the country’s economic development and renewable energies.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed an agreement aimed at “investing in shared prosperity“, referring to”five pillars», including migration issues. Tunisia is a departure point for thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

“An important new step”

The Italian heads of government Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Mark Rutte accompanied the European leader after a first visit a month ago by the trio, during which they had proposed this partnership. It’s about “a new important step to deal with the migration crisis in an integrated way“said Giorgia Meloni, who invited Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed, present at his side, to participate next Sunday in Rome in a summit on migration. The latter spoke in turn to insist on the part of the agreement relating to “bringing people together“.

According to Giorgia Meloni, the partnership between Tunisia and the European Union (EU) “can be seen as a model for establishing new relations with North Africa“. Mark Rutte, for his part, felt that “the agreement will benefit both the European Union and the Tunisian people», recalling that the EU is Tunisia’s first trading partner and its first investor. On immigration, he assured that the agreement will allow “better control irregular immigration“.

The agreement includes aid of 105 million euros to fight against irregular immigration and budget support of 150 million euros as Tunisia is strangled by a debt of 80% of its GDP and is short of cash . During its first visit, the European troika spoke of a “macro-financial assistance of €900 millionwhich could be provided to Tunisia in the form of a loan over the coming years.

Ursula von der Leyen said this Sunday that Brussels “stands ready to provide this assistance as soon as the conditions are met“. This “assistancefrom the EU is conditional on an agreement between Tunisia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for new credit from the Fund, a file that has been deadlocked for months.

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