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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article27 April 2023Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations2 min read

The European Commission and Tunisia have expressed the willingness to establish a stronger partnership on migration, anti-smuggling and the promotion of legal migration


On 27 April the European Commissioner for Home Affairs – Ylva Johansson – travelled to Tunisia. She met Nabil Ammar (Minister for Foreign Affairs, Migration and Tunisians abroad), Kamel Feki (Minister of Interior) and Malek Ezzahi (Minister for Social Affairs).

This visit is part of the EU and its Member States' broader political engagement with Tunisia and falls under the strategic partnership between the EU and Tunisia. The EU is one of Tunisia's major partners and it continues to support the country.

The visit highlights in particular the importance of the migration partnership between Tunisia and the EU and the willingness for such partnership to be deepened in cooperation with the EU Member States, in a ‘Team Europe' spirit. On this occasion, Tunisia and the European Commission have expressed the willingness to establish a stronger operational partnership on anti-smuggling, including in particular: (a) support for the protection of maritime borders and Tunisia's southern borders, (b) enhanced police and judicial cooperation, (c) enhanced operational cooperation with relevant EU agencies such as Eurojust and Europol (in this context, the relevant Tunisian authorities and Europol will work towards finalising negotiations with a view to signing a working arrangement) and (d) awareness-raising on the dangers of irregular migration, with EU-funded information campaigns to be launched in May and June.

Experts from both sides will lay down the details of this partnership, which will enable more effective action against irregular migration.

The Commission has acknowledged the efforts made by Tunisia in this area; it has expressed its solidarity and indicated that the European side is ready to provide significant support in order to consolidate Tunisia's capabilities in response to the resurgence of a phenomenon which needs to be perceived in its entirety and from a multidimensional point of view.

The two sides have agreed to strengthen their cooperation on protection and on return of irregular migrants in Tunisia to their countries of origin, with increased EU support for voluntary return and reintegration to countries of origin, in full respect for human rights and human dignity.

The two sides have agreed to strengthen existing schemes designed to support a more successful socio-economic reintegration of Tunisian migrants who returned to the country (in particular through support for the country's ‘Tounesna' reintegration scheme) and to better coordinate their efforts as regards the readmission and reintegration of Tunisian nationals.

They have also expressed the willingness to establish a Talent Partnership to promote legal migration in the interest of both sides. This would take into account Tunisia's and the EU Member States' mutual needs and would benefit jointly identified employment sectors and areas of activity, while providing a suitable response to the risk of a ‘brain drain'. To this end, a round-table discussion involving all stakeholders will be held in May 2023 with a view to laying down the framework and the content of the partnership.