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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article31 July 2015Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations4 min read

New EU funding to strengthen security sector and support socio-economic and regional development in Tunisia

The EU adopted the first part of its annual assistance package in favour of Tunisia for a total amount of €116.8 million. It aims to strengthen the security sector and to support socio-economic and regional development.


The EU adopted the first part of its annual assistance package in favour of Tunisia for a total amount of €116.8 million. It aims to strengthen the security sector and to support socio-economic and regional development.

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini said:

"A strong and democratic Tunisia is vital for the stability of Europe's neighbourhood. Bolstering our partnership is a top priority for the EU, as the swift adoption of this first package of EU assistance to Tunisia clearly demonstrates. It is in our common interest too to make sure that Tunisia remains an example to the region. Not just for Tunisia, not just for the Tunisian people, but also to keep hope alive in one of the most uncertain regions in the world. On July the 20th, we had a long discussion at the Foreign Affairs Council with Tunisian premier Habib Essid on the threats the country and the whole region are facing, and as the EU we guaranteed once again our support. This adoption is one of the many concrete measures we are bringing into play in the short and mid-term, as a response to the exceptional challenges Tunisia is facing."

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, commented: “Through today’s decision, the EU shows its willingness to provide continuous support to Tunisia in consolidating its democratic transition process. The quick adoption of this €116.8 million support package is a clear signal of our strong commitment towards Tunisia and the Tunisian people and also reaffirms our determination to support our key partner in the aftermath of the recent terror attacks. The EU has shown on this occasion that it is able to react with speed and effect in response to challenging situations."

Since 2011, the EU has continuously supported Tunisia in its democratic transition and has extensively increased its financial assistance to the country. Following the recent terrorist attacks in Tunis (March) and in Sousse (June), the EU is even more determined to intensify its support to Tunisia.

The political will of the EU to further strengthen relations with Tunisia was clearly expressed in the March European Council Declaration and the July Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions. In the past months, several EU high level political visits and meetings took place - visits of HR/VP Mogherini, European Council President Tusk and Commissioner Hahn to Tunis, and recent visits of Tunisian Prime Minister Essid to Brussels where he met the President of the European Commission Juncker.


Socio-economic reforms and consolidation of the democratic transition

The first part of the annual assistance package (AAP 2015-part 1) in favour of Tunisia is financed through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) and consists of five programmes aiming to: 1) support socio economic reform; 2) foster the consolidation of the basic elements of democracy; and 3) promote sustainable regional and local development.

To support sustainable economic and social development, a “Regional Initiative supporting Sustainable Economic Development" will aim to better link the private sector with vocational training qualifications and increasing employability of women and men in Tunisia.

To foster the consolidation of the basic elements of democracy, a programme will focus on security sector reform, which in light of the recent terrorist attacks, will be vital. Its principal objective is to support the Tunisian security sector to identify and implement institutional reforms to fulfil its mandate and to respond to the needs of the Tunisian people. Another programme will support the cultural sector to reaffirm and strengthen the strategically important role of culture in Tunisian society.

To promote sustainable regional and local development, a programme on support to decentralisation and integrated territorial development aims to pave the way for the process of regionalisation that is foreseen in the Tunisian Constitution. The programme also aims to reduce regional and local disparities, one of the key challenges Tunisia is facing today.

In addition, this package will support the implementation of the EU-Tunisia Action Plan for a privileged partnership signed in March 2015. In particular, the support will accompany the negotiations for a deep and comprehensive free-trade agreement (DCFTA).

These five programmes will be implemented in the different regions of Tunisia and will take regional specificities into careful consideration. Both public institutions and civil society organisations will benefit from these actions. Moreover, these programmes build on previous interventions and on the fruitful dialogue between the EU, its Member States and the Tunisian authorities.

Additional funding and next steps

In 2015, in addition to its bilateral allocation under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), Tunisia also benefitted with €71.8 million from the so-called ‘umbrella’ incentive funding mechanism under the ENI, which is rewarding progress in reforms.

The total 2015 ENI allocation in favour of Tunisia amounts to €186.8 million.

The second part of the 2015 annual assistance package for Tunisia will be adopted later in the year.

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Council conclusions on Tunisia