EU, Tunisia sign ‘partnership’ accord on migration, economy and renewable energy

The European Union and Tunisia on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding for a “strategic and comprehensive partnership” on irregular migration, economic development and renewable energy.

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Speaking at the Tunisian presidential palace, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the accord that aims to “invest in shared prosperity”.

She was accompanied by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Premier Mark Rutte, who were all in Tunisia last month for talks on the accord.

“We need an effective cooperation, more than ever” on migration, von der Leyen said, announcing greater cooperation against “networks of smugglers and traffickers” and in search and rescue operations.

The EU has sought ways to support Tunisia in a bid to stem the flow of migrants attempting perilous sea journeys from the North African country in hopes of reaching Europe.

Meloni welcomed “a new and important step to deal with the migration crisis”, and invited Tunisia’s President Kais Saied to an international conference on migration on July 23.

Rutte said both the European Union and “the Tunisian people” stand to benefit from the agreement, noting that the EU is Tunisia’s biggest trading partner.

In June, von der Leyen had offered Tunisia 105 million euros to support measure to curb irregular migration, 150 million euros in immediate support and 900 million euros in long-term aid.

But the money would be contingent on approval of the nearly $2 billion loan currently under negotiation with the International Monetary Fund.

Von der Leyen said the EU remains “ready to support Tunisia” and provide the funds “as soon as the necessary conditions are met”.

(AFP)

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