Tunisia: EU Assistance Funds Yet to Arrive as Migration Pressure Grows

by | Sep 1, 2023 | Diplomacy, Security, Tunisia


In late August 2023, Manfred Weber, a senior leader within the European Parliament, traveled to Tunisia to discuss the recently agreed-upon assistance program designed to help the country stem the flow of migrants to the EU.

Weber met with President Kais Saied among other senior officials, speaking on behalf of his center-right party, the European People’s Party (EPP), which is working to distinguish itself from far-right parties and coalitions on highly controversial issues such as migration. Weber emphasized the need for close partnership as the EU looks toward its future relationships with its “southern neighborhood,” which includes North Africa and the Levant.

Meanwhile, a senior EU leader, Gert Jan Koopman, reported that Tunisia has yet to receive the assistance funds promised in the recent agreement made between the European Commission, Italy, and the Netherlands.  While speaking with EU lawmakers, he clarified that the €105 million for border security and the €150 million for economic relief were not yet released.

His comments came as criticism from EU leaders and parliamentarians has grown as migrants continue to attempt Mediterranean Sea crossings and are arriving in Europe at startling rates. Koopman clarified that it is far too soon to determine the effectiveness of the assistance program given that the funds had not yet been provided to Tunisia.


Tension continues to grow in Europe over the issue of migration, with voices from across the political spectrum demanding action to slow the flow of migrants to Italy, Spain, and elsewhere.

While the assistance program to Tunisia has been hailed as a blueprint for future programs in the region, the plan remains untested. And European leaders are cautious about Tunisian leaders upholding their part of the agreement given recent history, including Tunisia having functionally walked away from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan deal that was set to forestall a serious economic crisis.

Recent reports about corruption pertaining to the disposition of aid funds since the 2011 revolution are also likely to raise concerns about how additional European aid funds will be spent when they arrive.


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