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EU-Tunisia relations: heritage and perspectives

A Pioneer country of the 2011 Arab revolutions, Tunisia is an essential  actor of the European Union Mediterranean neighbourhood.

These recent events stress the seniority of relations between Tunisia and the EU, which date back to 1969 with the signing of a trade agreement. More recently, Tunisia was a pioneer of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, having signed in 1995 an association agreement with the EU, containing among others the important goal of establishing a free trade area with the EU. Finally, an Action Plan neighborhood, developed in 2005, has established strategic objectives for this cooperation. A new action plan is being developed.

Currently, relations between the EU and Tunisia are governed by the 1995 Association agreement Tunisia was the first country in the Southern Mediterranean to sign an Association Agreement with Europe in 1995 agreement. This Agreement, which entered into force on 1 March 1998, forms the legal basis and legal framework of bilateral cooperation. It also takes part in the process of Euro-Mediterranean regional partnership of Barcelona, to which Tunisia is a full participant since 2005, and in the new Union for the Mediterranean (UfM).

On the economic front, the EU is the first partner of Tunisia in terms of trade with in 2012, 71.3% of exports and 62.4% of imports. It is also the largest investor with about 90% of total foreign ownership in companies, present in Tunisia.

Since the revolution, the cooperation has been greatly strengthened in several key areas. Today, the European Union supports Tunisia in the areas of regional and local development, economy and trade, human rights and the rule of law, education, training and employment, energy and the environment, and agriculture.

Areas of EU intervention in Tunisia have increased since 2011 and include:
– Strengthening of civil society and human rights
– Consolidation of the rule of law and justice
– Regional and local development
– Competitiveness of businesses and services
– Administrative reform and economic reform
– Development of human resources and employment

In the present context of political transition, the EU is strongly committed to democracy and the rule of law in Tunisia. This was shown by the presence of an election observation mission of the EU in the Tunisian elections which were deemed “credible and transparent” by the observers. In this regard Tunisia as stands an example both ancient and rich in future perspectives of the European Union policies towards third countries.


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