The Commission and Tunisia today began parallel negotiations in Tunis on an agreement to facilitate the process of issuing short-stay visas and an agreement to establish procedures for the readmission of irregular migrants.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, stated: ‘This marks a key phase in relations between the European Union and Tunisia. By facilitating the issuing of visas, contacts between people and economic, cultural and scientific links will be strengthened. Tunisia could be the first country in North Africa to benefit from an ambitious visa facilitation agreement. At the same time, the conclusion of a readmission agreement will help to avert the risk of irregular immigration from Tunisia, and manage its consequences’.
The visa facilitation agreement could, for example, see the relaxation or elimination of certain of the requirements laid down by the Visa Code, at least for some groups of people, while the agreement on the readmission of irregular migrants should lay down the procedures to be followed by both sides in order to clarify, simplify and speed up cooperation in this area.
The EU communication on ‘Strengthening EU support to Tunisia’ published on 29 September 2016 underlines the importance of stepping up cooperation with Tunisia in the area of migration. An integrated and comprehensive approach will be developed to boost resilience in a fragile socio-economic and security context marked by high unemployment, especially among young Tunisians.
The EU wishes to continue helping the Tunisian authorities to manage migration flows responsibly and humanely and to implement the economic and political reforms needed. The launch of negotiations on the two agreements is a positive step forward in this direction.