Brussels, 29 March 2010
Commissioner Füle on first official visit to Tunisia
Mr Štefan Füle, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, will pay a visit to Tunisia on 29 and 30 March during which he will meet several Tunisian ministers. A press conference has been arranged for Tuesday 30 March.
In anticipation of his first visit to the country, Mr Füle is keen to show his desire to strengthen relations between the European Union and Tunisia. 'Tunisia and the EU have strong links. I am convinced that we can do more to develop our bilateral relations with the help of a number of positive factors, in particular the stability enjoyed by the region. My intention is to give new impetus to our relations by building on the mutual confidence and understanding between us in order to embark on a constructive, ambitious and forward-looking dialogue.'
Political and economic relations between the EU and Tunisia are governed by the Association Agreement (AA). Tunisia was the first southern Mediterranean country to sign an Association Agreement with Europe (in 1995). The Agreement provides for cooperation in the political, economic, social, scientific and cultural spheres and will eventually establish a free-trade area between the two countries. A Neighbourhood Action Plan, drawn up in 2005, defines the strategic objectives of such cooperation.
Several financial protocols have been signed since 1980 in the context of technical and financial cooperation between the EU and Tunisia. Since 2007, such cooperation has been funded within the framework of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), with subsidies being granted in a variety of areas: economy and trade, training and employment, energy and environment, and agriculture and justice.