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Tunisia and the European Union have reached an agreement to stop illegal migration

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Tunisia and the European Union signed a “strategic partnership” agreement on Sunday. In return for financial support, the Tunisian government will take action to stop illegal border crossings across the Mediterranean.

The spokesman for the outgoing prime minister announced the agreement on Sunday afternoon the Netherlands Mark Rutte. The head of the government of the Netherlands stayed in Tunisia together with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the Prime Minister Italian Giorgia Meloni.

The deal follows weeks of talks that saw the EU pledge €1 billion in financial assistance to Tunisia.

The pact signed between Tunisia and the EU includes “agreements on disrupting the business model of smugglers and traffickers, strengthening border controls and improving registration and return (of people returned from Europe – ed.). All necessary measures to strengthen efforts to stop illegal migration,” he wrote Prime Minister of the Netherlands on Twitter.

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The road to agreement

The agreement is a direct result of earlier talks between European politicians and the authorities in Tunis. A month ago, after a meeting with Tunisian President Kais Saied, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, declared the immediate launch of financial assistance to combat people smuggling and to support the Tunisian economy.

At that time, EUR 900 million was promised for economic reforms, including EUR 150 million for changes that the International Monetary Fund is demanding. “Tunisia needs financial help because its economy is in a deplorable state,” reminds the Belgian daily “Het Laatste Nieuws” on Sunday.

An agreement was not reached at that time, however, the press service of the European Commission issued a statement to the media in which it was indicated that “European Union and Tunisia have agreed to work together on a comprehensive partnership package.”

Gateway to Europe

For years, Tunisia has been an important starting point for migrants trying to enter the European Union illegally. In recent months, people smugglers have massively used the so-called Tunisian route, which is particularly painful for Italy, as the country’s islands are only 70 km from the Tunisian coast.

Main photo source: Twitter/Mark Rutte

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