The European Union and Tunisia have signed an agreement to boost trade and restrain illegal migration across the Mediterranean to EU countries.
Politico reported this. The agreement was finalised on July 16. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte travelled to Tunisia together with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The EU-Tunisia agreement covers five areas: migration, macroeconomic stability, trade and investment, green energy, and networking.
The President of the European Commission noted that the EU is ready to provide macro-financial assistance to the country “when the necessary conditions are met”. However, specific details have yet to be disclosed.
In June, she said the European Commission was considering providing up to €900 million in macro-financial assistance and up to €150 million in direct budget support.
Among other things, the EU will provide Tunisia with funds to strengthen border controls, which should make it more challenging to send boats with migrants illegally.
According to von der Leyen, the EU will provide Tunisia with €100 million to fight human smuggling, search and rescue operations, etc.
“The tragic boat incident a few weeks ago, in which many people died, was another call to action. We must take on the criminal networks of smugglers,” she said.
Tunisia has recently become one of the main departure points for boats carrying migrants seeking a better life in Europe. A seat on an unreliable boat can cost up to several thousand euros. There are regular cases of boats sinking due to bad weather or because they are overloaded.
According to the International Organisation for Migration project, about 3,800 people died on their way to Europe from northern Africa and the Middle East in 2022, the most since 2017.
In mid-April, Italy declared a state of emergency due to a sharp increase in the number of migrants arriving across the Mediterranean.