The European Union (EU) welcomed, on Thursday, the measures announced at the investment conference (Tunisia 2010), affirming the determination to support the dynamics unleashed by this international meeting and to ensure the implementation of the Commitments made.
“The first visit by a Tunisian President to European Union institutions comes at a time when we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first co-operation agreement signed in 1976. Our meetings demonstrate at the highest level our determination to take a new step within the framework of a strategic relationship, the EU said in a statement issued on the occasion of the visit of President Beji Caid Essebsi in Brussels.
“These encounters reflect at the same time the depth of the ties that bind us and the Tunisian democratic exception in the southern neighbourhood”.
Since the Tunisian revolution of 2011, the EU has made of the support to for young democracy one of the priorities of its foreign policy. We reiterated our determination to support Tunisia’s efforts to consolidate democratic achievements, to further the effective implementation of the provisions of the 2014 Constitution and to address security, economic and social challenges, reads a statement by President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz as well as President Beji Caid Essebsi.
The Joint Communication “Strengthening the European Union’s support to Tunisia” of September 29, 2016, followed by the conclusions of the Council of the European Union on October 17, 2016, confirms the priority given by the EU to Tunisia.
The resolution of the European Parliament of September 14, 2016 confirms the desire to support the Tunisian transition through recommendations such as the call to the participants in Deauville Partnership to realize their commitments in favor of Tunisia. Since 2011, the EU has more than doubled the amount of its financial assistance to Tunisia.
We have confirmed our willingness to increase financial aid in the form of grants to €300 million by 2017; and to maintain this trend for the next few years. Moreover, since 2014, the EU has granted Tunisia macro-financial assistance of €800 million.
The International Conference “Tunisia 2020” on 29 and 30 November 2016 was a great success. It was an opportunity for Tunisia to present its new model of inclusive and sustainable economic and social development, the 2016-2020 Development Plan.
We welcome the positive measures announced at the conference by the Government of Tunisia to promote local and foreign investment and stress the importance of moving forward as quickly as possible in the reforms necessary for the development of the country.
We are determined to support the momentum generated by this Conference and to ensure the implementation of the commitments made. In this context, our co6operation will focus on stimulating economic growth to reduce unemployment, especially among young people, as well as regional disparities. To this end, it should promote a sustainable improvement of the investment and business climate in order to enable the Tunisian private sector, including SMEs, and foreign investors to develop their business and generate employment.
// Youth will be a priority in future cooperation //
We recognize the relevance of the Tunisia-Italy electrical interconnection project “ELMED” in the context of Tunisia’s energy policy and its integration into the Euro-Mediterranean electricity market, as well as its potential in promoting ties between our two regions. We are convinced that youth, which have paved the way for a single democratic transition, must be a priority in our future cooperation. We agreed to intensify our cooperation in order to identify all the possible opportunities and to set up, within the framework of an “EU-Tunisia Youth Partnership”, initiatives and programmes in the field of employment, vocational training, Mobility, culture, studies and research for Tunisian youth.
As such, we agree to intensify exchanges between universities. Every year 1,500 students and young people, as well as university staff, can benefit from European programmes such as Erasmus +.
We welcome Tunisia’s willingness to join the “Creative Europe” programme, which offers an additional opportunity to further promote dialogue between our two societies and will make every effort to enable the participation of Tunisian cultural operators as soon as possible.
It was agreed that a high level event will be organised in Tunis in the next six months to mark the attachment of two parties to the establishment of the “EU – Tunisia Youth Partnership”. We are ready to engage in a general dialogue on issues related to migration and mobility, areas in which the European Union and Tunisia must work together.
In this regard, we have already agreed to work within the framework of the Mobility Partnership for a better common management of migration. The launch of negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements on October 12in Tunis is an important step in this process. Working together in support of peace, prosperity and stability in the Euro-Mediterranean region remains a shared priority.
// EU to support Tunisia in implementing its counter-terrorism strategy //
Tunisia and the European Union together face the terrorist threat. We have agreed that this threat must be tackled by using, in a coordinated manner, all the instruments available to us, in compliance with international standards, democratic rules and human rights.
The second session of the High-Level Political Dialogue on Security and Counter-Terrorism to be held in Brussels on January 19, 2017, will provide an overview of current co-operation in the security field and strengthen EU support for the implementation of the new Tunisian strategy to combat terrorism and radicalization. We also want to continue supporting the reform of the security sector in Tunisia.
We also welcome the adoption of the Tunis Declaration against Terrorism and for Tolerance and Solidarity among Peoples, Cultures and Religions.
// The ALECA, an essential step in deepening Tunisian economic integration with the EU //
We underline the importance of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) as an essential step in deepening Tunisian economic integration with the EU and the need for Tunisia to make the best possible use of this agreement.
To this end, the EU reaffirmed the asymmetrical side of the future agreement which will enable Tunisia to benefit from it as soon as possible.
The European Union will support Tunisia in the negotiation and implementation of the DCFTA through targeted and related measures with a view to moderniSing and upgrading key sectors of the economy such as Agriculture and services. It is important to maintain the momentum of the negotiations.
We will also seek to support Tunisia in specific sectors in order to better integrate its economy into the European market. Convinced of the essential role played by the Tunisian civil society in strengthening its transition, we agreed to intensify the tripartite dialogue (EU, Tunisian authorities, civil society) and to further promote dialogue between our two societies.
We also discussed at the highest political level regional issues of common interest, including the situation in Libya. We have agreed to intensify contacts and consultations in order to contribute to a political solution to put an end to this crisis as soon as possible. We have decided to continue our high-level dialogue.
Determined as we are to boost our partnership, we believe that the authorities of the European Union and Tunisia should take stock of the progress of these various projects next spring.