EU reiterates determination to assist and support Tunisia’s efforts to address its security, economic and social challenges

This first visit of a Tunisian President to the institutions of the European Union comes as we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first Cooperation Agreement. Our meetings demonstrate, at the highest level, our commitment to taking our strategic relationship a step further, and at the same time reflect the strength of the ties that unite us and the Tunisian democratic exception in the neighbourhood.

Since the Tunisian revolution in 2011, the European Union has made support for the fledgling democracy one of the priorities of its external policy. We have reiterated our determination to assist and support Tunisia’s efforts to consolidate its democratic achievements, to pursue effective implementation of the provisions of the 2014 Constitution, and to address its security, economic and social challenges.

The European Parliament resolution of 14 September 2016 confirms the willingness to support Tunisia’s transition, through recommendations such as calling on participants in the Deauville Partnership to fulfil their commitments to Tunisia. The Joint Communication ‘Strengthening EU support for Tunisia‘ of 29 September 2016, followed by the conclusions of the Council of the European Union on 17 October 2016, confirms the high priority that the EU attaches to Tunisia.

Since 2011, the EU has more than doubled the amount of its financial assistance to Tunisia. We have confirmed our commitment to increasing financial assistance in the form of grants worth €300 million in 2017, and to maintaining this effort over the coming years. In addition, since 2014 the EU has made macro-financial assistance worth €800 million available to Tunisia.

The ‘Tunisia 2020’ international conference on 29 and 30 November 2016 was a great success. It was an opportunity for Tunisia to present its new inclusive and sustainable model for economic and social development: the Development Plan 2016-2020. We welcome the positive measures announced at the conference by the Tunisian Government, which aim to promote local and foreign investment, and we underline the importance of pressing ahead as quickly as possible with the reforms necessary for the country’s development. We are determined to support the momentum generated by this conference and to ensure the implementation of the commitments undertaken.

In this context, our cooperation will stimulate economic growth to reduce unemployment, especially among young people, and to reduce regional disparities. To that end, it must promote a lasting improvement towards a favourable investment and business climate that will enable the Tunisian private sector, including SMEs, and foreign investors to develop their business and generate jobs.

Moreover, we recognise the relevance of the ‘ELMED’ Tunisia-Italy electricity interconnection project in the context of Tunisia’s energy policy and its integration into the Euro-Mediterranean electricity market, as well as its potential for promoting closer links between our two regions.

We are convinced that young people, who paved the way for this unique democratic transition, must be a priority in our future cooperation. We have agreed to step up our cooperation in order to identify all possible opportunities and, as part of the ‘EU-Tunisia Youth Partnership’, to develop initiatives and programmes for employment, vocational training, mobility, culture, study and research for Tunisian youth. In this respect, we have agreed today to increase exchanges between universities.

Every year, 1 500 students and young people, as well as university staff, will be able to benefit from European programmes such as Erasmus+. We commend Tunisia’s desire to join the ‘Creative Europe’ programme, which offers an additional opportunity to further promote dialogue between our societies and which will allow Tunisian cultural operators to become involved as quickly as possible.

It has been agreed that a high-level event will be organised in Tunis in the course of the next six months to reflect both parties’ commitment to the establishment of the ‘EU – Tunisia Youth Partnership’.

We are ready to engage in a general dialogue on issues relating to migration and mobility, areas in which the European Union and Tunisia must work together. In that connection, we have already agreed to work to improve common management of migration within the framework of the Mobility Partnership. The launch of negotiations on the visa facilitation and readmission agreements in Tunis on 12 October 2016 represents an important stage in that process.

Working together in support of peace, prosperity and stability in the Euro-Mediterranean region remains a shared priority. Tunisia and the European Union are jointly addressing the terrorist threat. We have agreed that that threat must be combated by using all the instruments at our disposal in a coordinated manner, with due regard for international standards, democratic rules and human rights.

The second session of the high-level political dialogue on security and counter-terrorism, which is scheduled to take place in Brussels on 19 January 2017, will provide an opportunity to take stock of the ongoing cooperation in the field of security and to strengthen EU support for the implementation of the new Tunisian strategy for combating terrorism and radicalisation. We also want to continue to support the reform of the security sector in Tunisia. Moreover, we welcome the adoption of the ‘Tunis declaration against terrorism and for tolerance and solidarity among peoples, cultures and religions’.

We underline the importance of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) as a key step in deepening Tunisia’s economic integration with the EU and the need for Tunisia to use that agreement to the best possible advantage. To that end, the EU has reaffirmed the asymmetrical approach of the future agreement, which will enable Tunisia to reap the benefits as quickly as possible.

The European Union will support Tunisia in negotiating and implementing the DCFTA by means of targeted negotiation-related measures with a view to modernising and upgrading key sectors of the economy such as agriculture and services. To that end it is important to maintain the momentum of the negotiations. We will also seek to provide practical support for Tunisia in specific sectors with a view to integrating its economy even further into the European market.

Convinced of the key role played by Tunisian civil society in strengthening its transition, we have agreed to intensify the tripartite dialogue (between the EU, the Tunisian authorities and civil societies) and to encourage further dialogue between our societies.

We have also discussed regional issues of common interest, in particular the situation in Libya. We have agreed to step up contacts in order to contribute to a political solution capable of resolving that crisis as soon as possible.

In our determination to take our partnership forward, we have decided to continue our high-level dialogue. The institutions of the European Union and Tunisia are expected to take stock of the progress made in relation to these various projects next spring.

 European Council 


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