Tunisia and EU ink billion dollar migration deal

After months of speculation, Tunisia and the EU have finalised a deal to try and stem irregular migration from northern Africa. The negotiations culminated in a slightly awkward 4-way handshake between the leaders of Tunisia, Italy, the Netherlands, and the European Commission on Sunday.

Boat departures from Tunisia to Europe have spiked in recent months, with some estimating 3,000 folks are embarking on the journey each day.

So this deal seeks to respond with a package of five ‘pillars’:

  • 🧑‍🎓 Opening more programs for Tunisian students
  • 💰 Up to ~$1.1B in budget support for Tunisia (T&Cs apply)
  • 🚢 Activities to boost trade and investment with Tunisia, and
  • 🔋 Assistance for Tunisia’s green energy transition.

That’s four non-migration pillars, really all in Tunisia’s favour.

So what’s the 5th pillar the EU gets in return?

  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 More Tunisian cooperation on border control, anti-smuggling, and return operations, with ~$112M in EU funding.

Intrigue’s take: Tunis needs this injection of euros to stabilise its free-falling economy, and Brussels probably needs Tunisia’s help to manage EU borders.

But while the ink on the deal is barely dry, you can imagine the questions folks are asking around Tunisia’s human rights record, the president’s authoritarian streak, and the sheer volume of euros on offer.

The EU leader didn’t take media questions on Sunday, but we can imagine her answers: on this issue at least, it seems the ends justify the means.

Also worth noting:

  • €900M of the EU’s pledged budget support will depend on an IMF bailout which Tunisia just rejected due to the IMF’s “diktats”.
  • A UN body issued a rebuke after Tunisian President Saied’s comments about “hordes of illegal migrants” earlier this year.
  • In March, Europe’s parliament criticised Tunisia’s ongoing crackdown on civil society.
Latest Author Articles
US allies hold breath as House readies vote on security assistance bills

After months of deadlock, US Speaker of the House Mike Johnson says he’ll bring a key $95B military aid package to a vote as soon as tomorrow (Saturday).

19 April, 2024
Microsoft invests $1.5B in UAE AI firm after secret US government talks

US tech giant Microsoft has announced it’ll invest $1.5B in G42, the leading artificial intelligence (AI) firm in the UAE. The “strategic investment”, which gives Microsoft a minority stake in the company, aims to further the UAE’s ambitions as an AI hub while bringing yet another leading AI firm into Washington’s orbit.

17 April, 2024
Modi unveils election manifesto as ~1 billion Indians prepare to vote

Few world leaders enter a re-election campaign as sure of winning as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but that’s no excuse to slack off. So last Sunday, just before voting kicks off this Friday, his Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party, or BJP) unveiled its election manifesto named Modi’s Guarantee.

16 April, 2024
Could the US let WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walk free? 

President Joe Biden just said the US is “considering” Australia’s request to end the pursuit of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a move that could close over 14 years of legal and diplomatic drama. 

12 April, 2024