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Brussels, 6 September 2011

Statement by Commissioner Stefan Füle following his meeting with Mr Habib Essid, Minister of Interior of Tunisia

Today I met Mr Habib Essid, Minister of Interior of Tunisia.

We had a very fruitful discussion on the situation in Tunisia and the region, the state of bilateral relations, and the progress made by Tunisia in the democratisation process.

The Minister referred to the preparations of the upcoming elections for a Constituent Assembly on 23 October and the measures taken by the authorities towards the re-launch of the economy and maintaining security.

I reiterated the EU's commitment to support the ongoing democratic transition in Tunisia, and I recalled the measures already taken, notably the increase of the bilateral cooperation budget (from 80 to 130 million euro in 2011), the strengthening of the civil society and the support to the impoverished rural areas.

I expressed appreciation regarding the cooperation that has been established in the preparation of the upcoming elections. The EU will observe the elections and this is a very significant development for Tunisia and for the positive development of our bilateral relations. I also expressed the readiness of the EU to discuss with the authorities priorities for possible further support in the areas of the rule of law, justice and the security sector as part of the review of the cooperation programme for the next years.

I also stressed the EU's readiness to restart negotiations with Tunisia on the 'Advanced Status' as soon as possible, in light of the political reforms being implemented in the country and the willingness to establish a privileged partnership with the democratic Tunisia. The minister confirmed the authorities' readiness to start this process.

Finally, in line with the new EU approach to the European Neighbourhood Policy we discussed the idea of launching rapidly a dialogue on migration, mobility and security, leading to the conclusion of a mobility partnership with a view to establishing a mutually satisfactory cooperation on migration and mobility of people.

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