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EU Renews Pledge To Support Socio-economic Reforms In Tunisia

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – European Union (EU) has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the implementation of socio-economic reforms in Tunisia in order to enable the north African nation, achieve its targets.

The EU said Tunisia is undergoing a delicate transitional phase and grappling with difficult political and economic challenges.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice President, Josep Borrell gave the assurance while addressing members of the European Parliament.

He said the EU is well aware of the complexities of the current socio-economic context in Tunisia, adding that the important reforms it needs to accomplish in order to ensure long-term prosperity can be painful.

“Our partner and neighbour is undergoing a delicate transitional period. We witnessed many changes in the country in the past year and a half. The EU is worried about some of the measures adopted in Tunisia in the past few months.

“What today adds [up] to our concerns is indeed the worsening economic situation in Tunisia. A country, which was already suffering structural fragilities, was then further hit by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and now by the damaging impact of the Russian aggression against Ukraine”, he said.

Borrell who was represented by the EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli noted that since the 2011 Revolution, the EU has provided more than €3 billion in support of [the] Tunisian democratic transition.

“In addition, we supported the Tunisian people during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Team Europe and via our contributions to the COVAX platform. We will keep standing by the Tunisian people now that their situation is even more challenging”, he added.

He said the EU welcomes the agreement reached at technical level between the Tunisian administration and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), noting that  it is now urgent that the agreement is signed.

“We need to see a clear commitment from the Tunisian government to carry out the structural reforms that they have proposed to the Fund. The European Union remains committed to accompanying Tunisia in the implementation of these important measures”, he stressed.

Under the current political circumstances in Tunisia, according to him, an inclusive dialogue with all relevant political and civil society actors remains crucial.

Ensuring the largest consensus possible is fundamental to ensure successful reforms and sustainable growth. “This is a message we have been passing to our Tunisian partners in the past months and we reconfirm today”, he further explained.

Borrell also state that Tunisia is a very important partner of the EU and the union is following attentively and with concern the latest arrests that have been taking place in the past few days.

“Our values are clear, and we have been vocal about them. We believe that respect for the right to a fair trial and due process requirements, including judicial transparency, are crucial. And I recall that our partnership with Tunisia is rooted in shared values such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights, including fundamental freedoms.

“We remained determined to continue supporting the Tunisian population against the very difficult socio-economic backdrop, while taking into account the evolution of the deteriorating political situation.

“We exchanged with our Member States, and we all think it would be a mistake to discontinue our assistance now – which would impose the highest price to pay on the Tunisian people.
“We maintained the annual level of bilateral assistance and we adapted it to propose meaningful tailor-made programmes according to the current context.
“We expect the new Tunisian government to respond to their own commitments. The EU will stand by the Tunisian people and support reform efforts in today’s complex context”, he concluded.

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