By Bernard Yaros | Nov 20 2012Brussels ,EU ,EU-Tunisia Association Council ,New Action Plan ,Open Skies ,
Tunisia is now a privileged partner of the European Union (EU). At yesterdayâ€™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 EUâ€™s continuing support for Tunisiaâ€™s economic recovery and democratic transition was also included in the framework of yesterdayâ€™s agreement.
â€œWhen 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,â€ said Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan FÃ¼le in remarks to the press following the meeting.
â€œToday we are delivering on the first one. We are serious with our promises.â€
FÃ¼le 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 FÃ¼leâ€™s public statements, and would â€œsend a strong signal of openness and confidence to investors.â€
Tunisiaâ€™s economy is suffering from a level of unemployment that hovers around 18%. Tourism and foreign direct investment in Tunisia were hurt by last yearâ€™s political upheaval and have fallen below pre-revolution levels, but are showing signs of recovery this year.
â€œWe are keen to continue helping you to achieve the goals of the revolution: to strengthen democracy and to help the economy,â€ asserted FÃ¼le.