The EU Commission and Tunisia have officially begun to negotiate new deals for visa readmission.
The Commission and Tunisia are currently discussing agreements to simplify the process for issuing short-stay visas and establish new procedures for the readmission of illegal migrants.
European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: “Tunisia could be the first country in North Africa to benefit from an ambitious visa facilitation agreement. At the same time, the conclusion of a readmission agreement will help to avert the risk of irregular immigration from Tunisia, and manage its consequences.”
The EU official statement of ‘Strengthening EU support to Tunisia‘ published in September 2016 highlights the importance of improving cooperation with Tunisia in the area of migration. In the document, the EU stated its willingness to develop a comprehensive plan to address Tunisia’s dire socio-economic and security condition, as well as helping Tunisian authorities manage migration more responsibly.
As part of the agreement, the EU would almost double its annual aid to 300 million euros until 2020, as well as lend 500 million euros to help stabilize the Tunisian economy, reports Reuters. The EU’s enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said at a joint news conference with the head of EU’s foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, “The money is not unconditional,” adding: “We have decided to double our financial effort, not only because Tunisia needs the money but to increase our leverage.”
Tunisia currently has limited access to the EU’s single market, but a more enhanced trade deal would integrate part of its economy into the EU’s block, if the EU governments and the European Parliament agree to the accord.
According to Eurostat data on residence permits, there were 370, 000 Tunisian nationals residing legally in the EU at the end of 2015. In the same year, 23, 361 new residence permits were provided for Tunisian nationals. The main country of residence remains France, followed by Italy and Germany.
As the migration crisis from failing states continues on European shores, the block has an interest in ensuring Tunisia’s stability.