Exclusive: Key Points Concerning the Agreement between Tunisia and the European Union

Tunisia and the European Union have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic and Global Partnership this Sunday, July 16, 2023. This partnership aims to strengthen their economic and commercial ties, promote macroeconomic stability, encourage green energy transition, foster people-to-people relations, and holistically address migration and mobility issues.

Macroeconomic Stability: The European Union commits to assisting Tunisia in its efforts to boost economic growth and establish a sustainable and inclusive development model through appropriate policies, including socioeconomic reforms proposed by Tunisia. The implementation of this approach will be discussed during the third quarter of 2023, and the EU will provide budgetary support for these reforms, disbursed in full for the year 2023.

Economy and Trade: Tunisia and the European Union are dedicated to enhancing their economic and trade cooperation to facilitate the exchange of goods and services, create a favorable and attractive business environment, promote investment and sustainable development. Both parties aim to modernize the framework of their trade and investment relations to improve market access conditions. They also explore investment opportunities in public, public-private partnerships, and private projects, particularly within the framework of the European Fund for Sustainable Development (FEDD+), focusing on sectors with high export potential.

1- Agriculture: The parties strive to strengthen their partnership in sustainable water management to ensure access to clean drinking water, support sustainable agricultural irrigation using unconventional water sources (rainwater, brackish water, and treated wastewater), and develop strategic water management and transfer infrastructure. They also aim to enhance cooperation in sustainable agriculture, resilient food systems, and food security, including support for cereal systems and specific agricultural products through future negotiations.

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2- Circular Economy: Both parties aim to collaborate in the transition to a low-carbon circular economy, efficiently utilizing resources and sustainably managing waste through public-private partnerships.

3- Digital Transition: The parties agree to cooperate in the digital sector, leveraging opportunities for capacity building, technological cooperation, and joint projects. The MEDUSA submarine digital cable project could provide Tunisia with high-speed internet connectivity, and further opportunities for EU cooperation in innovation and digitization will be examined.

4- Air Transport: Efforts will be made to evaluate ways to increase air traffic between Tunisia and the EU, while ensuring Tunisia’s flexibility to adapt to a competitive market. The parties are considering the conditions for signing a comprehensive air transport agreement (CATA) to benefit tourism and connectivity.

Investments: In the context of Tunisia’s upcoming International Investment Conference, both parties commit to jointly organizing a EU-Tunisia Investment Forum to target priority sectors, as agreed upon. The EU will ensure active participation of European businesses in the conference and prepare activities and targeted sectors to propose to investors. Technical discussions will take place promptly to determine the best way to cover “investment” within the partnership framework and facilitate direct or remote exchanges with European investors interested in Tunisia’s identified target sectors.

Green Energy Transition: Recognizing Tunisia’s potential in renewable energies and mutual interest in securing energy production and supply, both parties strive to establish a strategic energy partnership, promoting green growth and job creation. This partnership aims to enhance energy supply security, providing citizens and businesses with low-carbon energy at competitive prices, while upgrading Tunisia’s infrastructure, including a smart grid.

Both parties endeavor to implement Tunisia’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, including its nationally determined contribution (NDC) and National Strategy for Carbon-Neutral and Climate-Resilient Development by 2050, focusing on climate mitigation and adaptation.

– The production of renewable hydrogen and its derivatives, such as ammonia, in Tunisia will be explored, taking into account the need to protect water resources. Cooperation in clean energy technology supply chains and electricity production will be considered for mutual benefit.

– The successful implementation of the energy strategic partnership will require significant targeted financial instruments, including guarantees, alongside appropriate regulatory reforms to attract investments and foster trade in Tunisia’s renewable energy sector.

The ELMED project, essential for energy security, will be supported, and measures for finalizing its financing scheme will be taken, ensuring its smooth operation and facilitating renewable energy investments.

Inclusive Relations between Peoples: Both parties intend to continue cooperating to strengthen civil society, promote people-to-people dialogue, and enhance cultural, scientific, and technical exchanges. Joint initiatives, including the 2016 EU-Tunisia Youth Partnership and other EU programs in research, education, culture, and youth development, will be implemented. The EU may consider additional support in these areas, particularly for technical and vocational training, supporting Tunisian workforce skills development at national and local levels. Efforts to harmonize Schengen visa issuance practices for Tunisian citizens will also be made through the local Schengen coordination mechanism.

Migration and Mobility: The parties plan to take a holistic approach to migration, recognizing its relationship with development. They agree to highlight the advantages of migration in economic and social development, foster people-to-people relations, and address the root causes of irregular migration. Both parties commit to promoting sustainable development in areas with high migration potential, supporting the empowerment and employability of vulnerable Tunisians through vocational training, employment, and private initiatives.

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Common priorities include combatting irregular migration to prevent loss of human lives and developing legal migration pathways. Tunisia reaffirms that it is not a destination for irregular migrants and will focus on protecting its own borders.

This approach will prioritize human rights, fight criminal networks of migrant smugglers and human traffickers, and improve border management. Effective measures will be taken to identify and repatriate irregular migrants in Tunisia back to their countries of origin, while ensuring their dignity and rights are respected.

The EU will provide adequate financial support, including funding for necessary acquisitions, training, and technical assistance to enhance Tunisia’s border management. Both parties will support the return and readmission of irregular migrants from the EU to Tunisia while promoting legal migration opportunities, including seasonal employment, facilitating legal mobility between the two parties through reduced visa processing times, costs, and administrative procedures.

A Talent Partnership will be implemented to promote legal migration in the mutual interest of Tunisia and EU member states, benefitting sectors and professions identified jointly.

In conclusion, this Memorandum of Understanding will be instrumental in deepening and diversifying cooperation between Tunisia and the European Union, covering essential aspects such as economic development, green energy transition, and migration management. It reflects both parties’ commitment to advancing their partnership and addressing shared challenges through joint efforts and collaboration.


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