Skip to main content
European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)

Latest News

  • News article

In support of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a strategic and comprehensive partnership between the EU and Tunisia, the Commission is today announcing €60 million in budget support for Tunisia and an operational assistance package on migration worth around €67 millio…

  • 1 min read

EU and Tunisia

The partnership between Tunisia and the European Union (EU) is rooted in the mutual interest of enhancing a prosperous and stable Tunisian democracy. The EU-Tunisia relations formally dates back to 1976 and its legal basis is the Association Agreement signed in 1995. The EU and Tunisia established a Privileged Partnership in 2012, which translated into the 2013-2017 Action Plan to increase the links between the EU and Tunisia. Both partners also adopted a Mobility Partnership in 2014. The EU's commitment to support Tunisia achieve its ambitions was further underlined in 2016 with the Joint Communication "Strengthening EU support for Tunisia". In December 2016, the EU and Tunisia launched the EU-Tunisia Youth Partnership to promote education, employment, economic growth, regional development and youth mobility. In the context of the revised European Neighbourhood Policy and the EU's Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, the EU-Tunisia Strategic Priorities were endorsed at the EU-Tunisia Association Council in July 2018 and adopted in November 2018 by the Council, as the main guiding lines for the EU-Tunisia privileged partnership in 2018-2020. They were prolonged in December 2021 until new joint political documents are adopted.

The 2011 Revolution marked a turning point in the EU-Tunisia partnership. Ever since, the EU has been Tunisia's key partner in support of its democratic and socio-economic transitions. Through all its instruments, the EU has been supporting democratic and socioeconomic reforms, accompanying the electoral processes, promoting human rights, strengthening civil society actors, enhancing economic and trade integration, improving security and addressing migration. Since 2011, EU assistance to Tunisia has amounted to €3.4 billion with over €2 billion in grants and €1.4 billion in macro-financial assistance (concessional loans).

Bilateral cooperation

The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) was the key EU financing instrument for bilateral cooperation with Tunisia for the period 2014-2020. Since 2021, the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI - GE) frames the EU’s cooperation. The instrument’s approach includes grant funding, blending grants with loans and budgetary guarantee to mobilize funds through the European Financing Institutions under the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD+).

Under NDICI-GE, bilateral assistance follows multiannual programming through the draft Multiannual Indicative Programme 2021-2027, yet to be adopted for Tunisia, defining the areas of focus for EU assistance, in line with the Strategic Priorities.

For the period 2021-2024, the EU’s bilateral assistance to Tunisia under NDICI amounts to €600 million and should focus on the three following priority sectors:

  • Promoting good governance and the rule of law;
  • Stimulating a sustainable economic growth generating employment and accompanying the energy transition;
  • Reinforcing social cohesion between generations and regions.

From 2011 on, EU assistance to Tunisia increased substantially. Tunisia has been the number one beneficiary of the incentive-based mechanism every year since 2011 following progress in the respect of human rights and the rule of law, and was awarded additional funding worth €90 million in 2020. In 2021-2022, Tunisia benefited from additional €20 million under this mechanism through the EU Food and Resilience Facility for the Southern Neighbours to help Tunisia cope with the consequences on food commodity prices and availability of Russia’s aggression war on Ukraine.

Since 2011, the EU has been giving even greater importance to civil society in the Southern Neighbourhood. In Tunisia, assistance to NGOs was increased and regular consultation fora were established to promote a more structured dialogue between the EU and civil society organisations. Support to civil society has become a key feature of EU cooperation with the country and trilateral consultations (civil society, EU, Government) take place ahead of subcommittee meetings under the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement. In 2022, a new common EU roadmap for the work with civil society in Tunisia was launched based on the successful long-term tripartite dialogue and on country-wide negotiations with civil society organisations and Member States.

Under the EU External Investment Plan and the blending mechanism of the Neighbourhood Investment Platform, Tunisia has benefited from €2.3 billion in blending grants and concessional loans from European Financing Institutions combined with public and private sector financing since 2014. Investments supported projects in numerous sectors such as education, transport, water, renewable energy and urban development. EU grants increase the concessional nature of loans from European Financial Institutions and absorb political and economic risks. Under the new NDICI-GE instrument, an increased accent on blending EU grants with loans from European and International Financing Institutions will allow partner counties to unlock a substantial level of concessional funding for investments. The new system of guarantees provided for under the NDICI-GE will give access to additional funds from the crowding-in of both public and private investors.

On 9 February 2021, the European Commission adopted a Joint Communication on the renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood, establishing a new Agenda for the Mediterranean to relaunch and reinforce the EU’s partnership with the region. It will guide EU policy and programming towards the country for the coming years. The Joint Communication is accompanied by an Economic and Investment Plan for the Southern Neighbours to ensure amongst others that the quality of life for people in the region improves and the economic recovery, including following the COVID-19 pandemic, leaves no one behind. The Plan includes 12 preliminary flagship initiatives to strengthen resilience, build prosperity and increase trade and investment to support competitiveness and inclusive growth. Relevant flagships for Tunisia include (1) support to the conclusion of a Comprehensive Aviation Agreement with the EU, (2) support to the deployment of social protection systems improving the resilience of vulnerable populations, (3) support to the digitalisation of the economy, (4) support to the rollout of the national water strategy, securing availability and access to water.

EU’s bilateral cooperation with Tunisia builds on the main EU policy objectives such as the European Green Deal, the EU Gender Action Plan III and the Global Gateway Strategy.



Regional cooperation

In addition to bilateral cooperation, Tunisia benefits from regional and Neighbourhood-wide cooperation programmes under the NDICI-GE and previously under the ENI in the sectors of economic development and business environment; education, training and research; culture and media; migration and asylum; justice, freedom and security; environment, climate change and energy; civil society.

Under the EU twinning tool, the Tunisian public administration is partnered with European administrations for mutual learning and capacity building through sharing of EU best practices. Tunisia benefited from 20 twinning projects in 2014-2020 in the sectors of Agriculture and Fisheries, Environment, Finance, Internal market and economy, Health and consumer protection, Justice and home affairs, Social affairs and Employment, Statistics, Telecommunications and Transports. Tunisia also benefited from TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument) that supports public administration reforms with 148 events in 2017-2022.

Support in the field of migration under the EUTF Africa

Tunisia benefits from bilateral and regional migration-related funding under the NDICI-GE and under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, and previously in 2017-2020 under the North of Africa window of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa, for a total of at least €152 million of ongoing programmes. The EU and Tunisia cooperate on all aspects of migration in a holistic approach comprising migration governance, border management, protection, fighting smuggling and trafficking, labour migration and legal mobility, diaspora mobilisation, return, readmission and reintegration. In 2023, Tunisia will benefit from an indicative amount of €105 million migration-related funding.

Other financing instruments

Tunisia also benefits from the following thematic EU programmes and instruments:

  • Erasmus+: since 2021, 615 Tunisian students and staff travelled to Europe and 229 European students and staff travelled to Tunisia through Erasmus+, and 21 Tunisian students benefitted of Erasmus Mundus grants in 2021 and 2022 to conduct Masters’ degrees in Europe. This adds up to the mobility offered by the previous 2015-2020 Erasmus+ programme where 2,877 Tunisian students and staff travelled to Europe and 1,208 European counterparts travelled to Tunisia.
  • Foreign Policy Instrument: €6 million in 2022-2023 for actions focused on counterterrorism and prevention of radicalization.
  • Since 1 January 2016, Tunisia has become the first Arab country fully associated to the EU research programme Horizon 2020, which provides new opportunities to Tunisian scholars and researchers. Since March 2022, Tunisia takes part in Horizon Europe for the 2021-2027 period.
  • On 11 May 2017, Tunisia signed the association to the Creative Europe programme, which enables Tunisian cultural and audio-visual operators to participate fully in the Culture sub-programme and partially in the MEDIA sub-programme (participation limited to training, film festivals, film education, and market access activities). Since March 2022, Tunisia takes part in Creative Europe for the 2021-2027 period.
  • Cross-border cooperation: Tunisia benefits in 2021-2027 of the Interreg NEXT Italy-Tunisia (particularly focused on the Green Deal, with 45% of the programme funding allocated to green transition measures; €32.3 million EU funding) and the Interreg NEXT MED programmes (brings together 15 Mediterranean countries including Tunisia and finances joint cooperation projects that aim to make the Mediterranean a greener, cleaner, more competitive and more inclusive space to live; €250 million EU funding).
  • NDICI-GE Human Rights and Democracy / Civil Society Organisations thematic lines: in 2023, three projects started under the Human Rights and Democracy thematic programme for around €2 million on protection of activists and fighting against sexual, religious, ethnic discrimination and institutional violence. A new call for proposal for CSOs has been launched in April 2023 focusing on civil society sustainability, economic services and citizen participation for €2.4 million.

Further information

Factsheets available to download

Key documents

For specific information (programme level), see below