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Brussels, 19 November 2012
Statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle following the EU-Tunisia Association Council
I have already said several times to our Tunisian friends that we want to see your transformation succeed.
The European Union's offer remains substantial. We are keen to continue helping you to achieve the goals of the revolution: to strengthen democracy and to help the economy.
When I was in Tunis last July I outlined four concrete point of our assistance: Privileged Partnership and a New Action Plan, negotiations of trade agreements, a new agreement in the aviation area to boost tourism and proposing a mobility partnership. Today we are delivering on the first one. We are serious with our promises.
And I am glad to report that we have agreed to embark on the actual negotiations on the open sky agreement, following a meeting of my colleague Vice-President Kallas with the Tunisian transport minister last week. We are convinced that a speedy conclusion of these negotiations would bring substantial benefits to Tunisian tourism, employment and the economic recovery.
We hope that negotiations on a number of trade agreements can also resume quickly. We are offering the prospect of a gradual integration of the Tunisian economy into our internal market. This will not only offer additional market access and stimulus for reforms but will also send a strong signal of openness and confidence to investors. In the shorter term, we are offering to resume negotiations in the field of agriculture which can bring also clear benefits to both sides.
I am fully aware that there are high expectations regarding the issue of improving mobility of people. This is a legitimate concern. Quick progress on talks on the mobility partnership would give a first, concrete, and symbolic response to Tunisian expectations on mobility and labour exchanges.
So, there are many opportunities – to use them it is necessary to continue with the transformation and reforms. Only then will the citizens see the changes they were calling for during their inspiring revolution almost two years ago.
The success of the transition is in your own hands and will still require a lot of efforts. But as you can see from today's Association Council, you are not alone and we are ready to assist you.