Tunisia: Italy Urges Assistance Deal as EU, Carthage Grow Wary

by | Oct 17, 2023 | Diplomacy, Political, Security, Social, Tunisia


On 17 October 2023, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Paintedosi urged the European Union (EU) to move forward with the assistance deal signed with Tunisia in July as means to stem to flow of irregular migrants to Europe. 

The assistance deal, hailed by EU leaders as a blueprint for addressing irregular migration, is in doubt after President Saied rejected the EU’s “charity” and returned 60 million. 

On 20 October 2023, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani visited Tunisia, accompanied by the Italian ministers of Labor and Agriculture. Tajani met with President Saied as well as Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar. 

During the visit with FM Ammar, Tajani signed a memorandum of understanding that would open regular migration opportunities for 4,000 Tunisians to take jobs in Italy. 



Tajani’s visit comes as the EU and Tunisia have reached an unexpected impasse over the execution of the financial assistance agreement signed in July. 

Many European leaders have grown skeptical of how the deal can be implemented while ensuring that Tunisia respects the human rights of irregular migrants. Tunisia, in turn, has grown skeptical of Europe’s efforts to leverage Tunisia as a “border guard.” 

Italy remains highly motivated to implement the deal given its central role as a landing point for migrants. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and FM Tajani are likely to continue pressing for the deal despite European concerns in order to begin seeing tangible reductions in migrant arrivals in Europe. 

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas could further complicate the future of the deal as tension grows between western and Arab states over both messaging and policy around the conflict. 



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