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European Commission - Press release

EU/Tunisia Task Force agrees concrete assistance for Tunisia’s transition

Brussels, 29 September 2011 - The first meeting of the EU/Tunisia Task Force, in Tunis on 28/29 September, agreed a series of concrete measures to help Tunisia restart its economy and ease its transition to a democratic future. The Task Force, co-chaired by EU High Representative/Commission Vice President Catherine Ashton and Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid el Sebsi, was established to coordinate European and international support to allow quicker and more effective assistance. EU financial support to Tunisia could approach 4 billion euros between 2011 and 2013.

’I'm pleased to say that the first meeting of the EU/Tunisia Task Force was a great success,’ Catherine Ashton said. ’A new Tunisia is emerging: open, dynamic, prosperous, and democratic. It is an example for the entire region. Yet I know that Tunisians want even faster changes, particularly in their economy. While this must of course be a Tunisian-led process, the EU is committed to doing all it can to help. Tunisia has lots of potential, skilled people and great opportunities. But it's important that investment returns.’

"Tunisia is setting an example for the region. The European commission, through the new framework of the ENP, has developed new initiatives and instruments to support the emerging new Tunisia and to ensure that we can support the transition in the short and long term. We will apply the more for more principle with determination", added Stefan Füle Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy.

The main conclusions of the Task Force were:

A number of financing programmes were agreed, including for economic recovery and water sector reform and aid to civil society.

On 30 September, formal negotiations will begin between Tunisia and the EU to establish a new 'Privileged Partnership' covering all areas of mutual interest.

The EU will establish an asset recovery support team with experts in Tunis and Brussels to facilitate information sharing with Member States and the Tunisian Government on assets illegally expatriated by the former regime.

It was agreed to restart negotiations to liberalise trade in agriculture and to launch a Deep and Comprehensive FTA, once the EU Council agrees the mandate.

Discussions will start on an Air Services Agreement to boost travel, a vital sector for the Tunisian economy.

In order to improve opportunities for people to work, study and travel in the EU, the EU will begin talks on Mobility Partnerships with Tunisia, the first in the Southern Mediterranean.

Full details of the co-chairs conclusions can be found at:

http://eeas.europa.eu/tunisia/docs/20110929_taskforce_en.pdf

http://eeas.europa.eu/tunisia/docs/20110929_taskforce_fr.pdf

Background:

The Task Force brings together the Tunisian authorities, EU Member States, International Financial Institutions, the private sector, civil society, and members of the European Parliament. Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey also attended on the High Representative's invitation to coordinate efforts on asset recovery.

An EU-Tunisia Association Committee will follow-up the Task Force's recommendations, and the Task Force will hold a second meeting in the first half of 2012.

Contacts :

Maja Kocijancic (+32 2 298 65 70)

Michael Mann (+32 2 299 97 80)

Sebastien Brabant (+32 2 298 64 33)

Anca Paduraru (+32 2 29 66 430)


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