NewsAfricaThe pact between the EU and Tunisia, a new "model" in the...

    The pact between the EU and Tunisia, a new “model” in the face of the migration crisis?

    The EU concluded on Sunday a “strategic partnership” on the migration issue with Tunisia, to curb the illegal crossings which are increasing from its coasts. An agreement presented as a “model” by the head of the Italian government Giorgia Meloni, but considered a setback by human rights associations.

    It is “a complete strategic partnership” welcome the leaders of the European Union. On Sunday July 16, the EU and Tunisia reached an agreement to combat illegal immigration to Europe, which is booming from the North African country.

    This “memorandum of understanding” includes direct budgetary aid of 150 million euros in 2023 for Tunisia, which is facing a severe economic crisis and whose debt has reached 80 % of GDP, for a total envelope that could reach up to 900 million euros.

    This agreement signed between the 27 and Tunisia is based on five pillars which are “macro-economic stability, trade and investment, green energy transition, rapprochement between peoples and migration and mobility”.

    For the bossdo of the Italian government Giorgia Meloni, this partnership which deals with “the migration crisis in an integrated way (…) can be seen as a model for establishing new relationships with theNorth Africa”.

    Read Also:   Tunisian coast guards implicated in the sinking of sub-Saharan migrants

    Several NGOs believe, on the contrary, that this is a very worrying signal in the current Tunisian context, likely to further inflame the resurgence of violence of which sub-Saharan exiles are victims.

    Illegal immigration hotspot

    For the European Union, this agreement with Tunisia is primarily a response to an economic emergency. According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), some 50,000 people arrived in Italy illegally by boat in the first five months of 2023, compared to 19 000 over the same period in 2022. More than half of them left Tunisia.

    “This year the country has overtaken Libya, which until now has been the leading country for departures to Europe”, underlines Myriam Tixier, project manager at the Cimade association, which helps migrants.

    A situation due to the hardening of the policy of the Libyan authorities vis-à-vis migrants, but also to the proliferation of smugglers in Tunisia, particularly in the city of Sfax, now considered the hub of illegal immigration in the region, say local authorities.

    Read Also:   Senegal announces the temporary closure of its consulates abroad

    The growing presence of migrants in the port city has been generating strong tensions with the locals for months. These have degenerated since the death of a Tunisian during an altercation with sub-Saharans in early July, resulting in a real hunt for migrants.

    Read alsoThe city of Sfax sinks into chaos, between migration crisis and absence of the State

    A global partnership on behalf of the 27

    The signed agreement aims to “strengthen cooperation to fight and reduce irregular migratory flows and save human lives”. Because the sharp increase in departures from the Tunisian coasts goes hand in hand with an increase in shipwrecks. The first quarter of 2023 thus saw the highest number of deaths at sea since 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    Read Also:   Ivory Coast appoints interim prime minister

    To combat this scourge, the EU relies on a “holistic” (global) approach which includes the “development of legal channels for migration”, in other words, selective immigration, while promoting “sustainable development” in “disadvantaged areas with high migratory potential” to reduce illegal immigration. Finally, emphasis is placed on the fight against “criminal networks of smugglers” with the strengthening of controls, patrols and means of investigation aimed at dismantling these networks.

    This agreement, which according to Giorgia Meloni should serve as a basis for ongoing negotiations with other countries in the region, is part of the overall reform of European policy on migration and asylum, started in autumn 2020.

    “The agreement with Tunisia is a kind of trial balloon”, underlines Caroline de Camaret, specialist in European issues at France 24. “It is now a question of dealing with this question no longer bilaterally but between the 27 Member States and each country concerned, by including as many parameters as possible in the negotiations”.

    Economic arm wrestling ?

    This pact includes measures specifically targeting Tunisian youth – in particular through a student exchange program as well as training within the EU – but also support for the tourism industry or even the development of renewable energies.

    While the agreement with Tunisia is supposed to represent the policy of the 27, many observers have questioned the choice of representatives chosen to accompany the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during this trip to Tunisia : Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni and Dutchman Mark Rutte, whose very hard line on family reunification has blown up the government.

    Human Rights Watch researcher Lauren Seibert, for her part, warned of the unfortunate context of this visit, scheduled even though migrants had been forcibly expelled at the Libyan border.

    “The agreement will benefit both the European Union and the Tunisian people,” said Sunday the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, recalling that the EU is Tunisia’s leading trading partner and its leading investor. He also welcomed “agreements to disrupt the business models of ‘smugglers’ and traffickers of human beings, to strengthen border control and to improve registration and returns”.

    “Once again, the European Union is using economic negotiations to get a Estate on the immigration side. Contrary to what is said, it is not a question of a fresh look”, denounces Myriam Tixier. “We know that the reasons for illegal immigration are complex, they may have to do with the lack of opportunities, but also with sexual orientation, the search for family ties, questions of freedom of expression… The economic aid promised by the EU will not solve this problem” she analyzes.

    The Cimade project manager also fears that this support from the EU in the midst of a controversy over the treatment of migrants in Tunisia will reinforce the policy of President Kaïs Saïed.who repeatedly called them a threat to the country.

    “It is certain that the EU has found a very good ear in Tunisia. The president is trying by all means to get the exiles to leave. There is strong fear that this agreement will further worsen the situation of migrants, already persecuted in an absolutely outrageous way in the country”.

    In the text of the agreement, Tunisia reaffirms its position not to be “a country of settlement of irregular migrants”. She undertakes to fight “against criminal networks of smugglers” while defending an approach “based on respect for human rights”.

    Source: France 24

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    three × 2 =

    Subscribe & Get Latest News