Brussels, 15 March 2013
EU-Tunisia: message of continued support
Tunis (15th March) – “The European Union continues to stand at the side of the citizens of Tunisia in the important, difficult but also rewarding process of transformation” Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, said at the end of his visit to Tunis. He was the first high level EU representative coming to Tunis after the appointment of the new government of Prime Minister Ali Laradayeh.
In the meetings with his partners, Commissioner Füle reconfirmed the EU's strong support for the Tunisian transition. He also stressed that more clarity is needed about the next steps in this process: concluding the work on the new Constitution in an inclusive manner, fixing the date of the next parliamentary elections, implementing long awaited reforms to consolidate fundamental freedoms and setting the long term vision for the country. "The more we know about the needs and strategies of our partners here, the more and better can we engage with Tunisia in using our instruments and our assistance to help the country in the reform process” Commissioner Füle stated.
During his two day visit to Tunis he met with the leader of the Ennahda party Rachid Ganouchi, chairman of the Nidaa Tounes party Beji Caid Essebsi, with the representatives of the Employers' Confederation, Secretary General of the trade unions UGTT Houssine Abassi as well as representatives of civil society.
In the framework of the EU-Tunisia Privileged Partnership, Commissioner Füle called for a national unified effort to build upon the values and principles at the heart of the Tunisian revolution. He pleaded for a climate of dialogue and mutual recognition between all political, social, economic and civil society actors, to enable progress to achieve urgent political objectives, such as the approval of the constitution and the organisation of free and fair elections, and to respond to the pressing economic and social needs.
Elaborating on the EU support provided so far to Tunisia, Commissioner Füle highlighted once again that the EU had substantially increased its financial aid through grants, nearly doubling the size of the financial cooperation for the 2011-2013 to €400 million in total. Within the Privileged Partnership, the EU is also willing to start several negotiations to boost the economy such as the open sky agreement, Deep and Comprehensive and Free Trade Area, Agreement on trade in agricultural products and the Agreement on technical norms and standards. He recalled that such negotiations are the best way to attract investments in Tunisia, develop tourism, restore investors' confidence and enhance exports of Tunisian products.
See Commissioner´s remarks to the press here: MEMO/13/230
See more information on new EU assistance to Tunisia here: IP/13/232