Tunisia is now a privileged partner of the European Union (EU). At yesterday’s EU-Tunisia Association Council in Brussels, Tunisia and the EU both agreed to the terms of a Privileged Partnership.
The two parties signed on as well to a new Action Plan, which delineates bilateral cooperation in the areas of scientific research, higher education, social affairs, and finance for the period between 2013 and 2017, stated a press release from the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The EU’s continuing support for Tunisia’s economic recovery and democratic transition was also included in the framework of yesterday’s agreement.
“When I was in Tunis last July, I outlined four concrete points of our assistance: Privileged Partnership and a New Action Plan, negotiations of trade agreements, a new agreement in the aviation to boost tourism and proposing a mobility partnership,” said Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle in remarks to the press following the meeting.
“Today we are delivering on the first one. We are serious with our promises.”
Füle added that negotiations on an open sky agreement are in the offing and pointed to a meeting held last week between EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas and Tunisian Minister of Transport Abdelkarim Harouni.
The possibility of granting more access for Tunisia to the EU market, particularly in the field of agriculture, was also touched upon in Füle’s public statements, and would “send a strong signal of openness and confidence to investors.”
Tunisia’s economy is suffering from a level of unemployment that hovers around 18%. Tourism and foreign direct investment in Tunisia were hurt by last year’s political upheaval and have fallen below pre-revolution levels, but are showing signs of recovery this year.
“We are keen to continue helping you to achieve the goals of the revolution: to strengthen democracy and to help the economy,” asserted Füle.