The EU finalized an agreement with Tunisia on Sunday to strengthen trade relations and stem the departures of migrants from the African country to Europe.
Under the deal, which the European Commission had struggled to push over the line, the EU will provide money to Tunis in exchange for stronger border controls.
Exact financial details of the deal were not provided in the EU statement Sunday. But Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said last month that the EU was ready to provide Tunisia with more than €1 billion in areas such as trade, investment and energy cooperation.
The statement said the deal covers five pillars: migration, macroeconomic stability, trade and investment, green energy transition and people-to-people contacts.
On economic development, von der Leyen declared at a press conference in Tunis that the EU is « ready to support Tunisia by mobilizing macro-financial assistance as soon as the necessary conditions are met. » He added that as a « bridging step, we are ready to provide immediate budget support ».
Though he gave no details on Sunday, von der Leyen said in June that the commission was considering up to €900m in macro-financial aid, plus “up to €150m in budget support” directly.
Von der Leyen traveled to Tunisia on Sunday together with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to meet Tunisian President Kais Saied again. A similar meeting last month failed to conclude talks before the EU leaders’ summit in late June, as had been hoped.
« Migration is a significant element of the agreement we signed today, » Rutte said at a press conference on Sunday. « It is essential to achieve greater control of irregular migration. »
Von der Leyen said that under the deal, the EU will provide Tunisia with €100 million to improve border management, search and rescue, anti-smuggling measures and other initiatives to address the migration issue .
« The tragic shipwreck a few weeks ago, in which many people lost their lives, was yet another call to action, » von der Leyen said. « We must crack down on the criminal networks of smugglers and traffickers. »