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EU finalizes migrant deal with Tunisia

EU finalizes migrant deal with Tunisia

by host

The EU finalized an agreement with Tunisia on Sunday to boost trade relations and stem migrant departures from the African country to Europe.

Under the deal, which the European Commission had been struggling to push over the line, the EU is to provide cash to Tunis in exchange for stronger border controls.

Exact financial details of the agreement were not given in the EU statement on Sunday. But Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said last month that the EU was ready to provide Tunisia with more than €1 billion in areas including trade, investment and energy cooperation.

The statement said the agreement covers five pillars: migration, macro-economic stability, trade and investment, green energy transition, and people-to-people contacts.

On economic development, von der Leyen told a press conference in Tunis that the EU is “ready to support Tunisia by mobilizing macro-financial assistance as soon as the necessary conditions are met.” She added that as a “bridging step, we are ready to provide immediate budget support.”

While she didn’t give details on Sunday, von der Leyen said in June that the Commission was considering up to €900 million in macro-financial aid, plus “up to €150 million in budget support” directly.

Von der Leyen traveled to Tunisia on Sunday along with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to meet again with Tunisian President Kais Saied. A similar meeting last month had failed to propel the talks to conclusion before a late June EU leaders’ summit as had been hoped. 

“Migration is a significant element of the agreement we have signed today,” Rutte told the press conference on Sunday. “It is essential to gain more control of irregular migration.”

Von der Leyen said that under the agreement, the EU will provide Tunisia with €100 million to improve border management, search and rescue, anti-smuggling measures and other initiatives to address the migration issue.

“The tragic shipwreck a few weeks ago, in which many people lost their lives, was yet another call for action,” von der Leyen said. “We need to crack down on criminal networks of smugglers and traffickers.”

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