Barroso pledges extra aid for Tunisia
The European Union will provide up to €140 million in extra aid to Tunisia over the next three years, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, announced today (12 April).
Barroso made the announcement after talks with Fouad Mebazaa, Tunisia’s interim president, in Tunis. The money will be in addition to €257m already budgeted for democracy support, a ‘mobility partnership’ and measures to stimulate economic growth, Barroso said.
“I have come with a message of friendship, admiration and respect for Tunisia and to express our solidarity and support for the democratic transition in the country,” Barroso said.
However, Barroso made clear that Tunisia’s interim government has to clamp down on illegal migration. More than 20,000 Tunisian migrants have arrived in Italy since the ousting three months ago of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia’s long-time president. EU interior ministers discussed their response to the wave of migration at a meeting in Luxembourg yesterday (11 April) and tasked the European Commission with identifying sources of additional funding for Tunisia.
Frontex, the EU’s border management agency, is seeking an agreement with Tunisia that will allow the repatriation of Tunisians and joint naval patrols to intercept migrant boats.