The EU is committed to develop a close relationship with Tunisia and to support Tunisia’s economic and political reforms.
Tunisia was the first Mediterranean country to sign an Association Agreement with the EU in July 1995, representing the legal basis for our bilateral relations.
The current agenda of EU-Tunisia political cooperation is spelled out in an Action Plan 2013-2017.
The 2014-2016 single support framework defines financial assistance priorities under the European Neighbourhood Instrument.
Annual Action Programmes for Tunisia, funded under the European Neighbourhood Instrument on a yearly basis, provide further specifications on sectors and operations to be financed.
Other funding sources include thematic programmes, focusing among others, on human rights and civil society or regional programmes funded by the ENI regional envelop.
Tunisia also benefits from funding under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa. This Trust Fund support to the North of Africa area is managed by the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations.
In the aftermath of the 2011 revolution, the EU rapidly responded to the evolving economic and political challenges and almost doubled the amount allocated to Tunisia for the period 2011-2013 (from €240 million to €445 million). Furthermore, EU-Tunisia cooperation was thoroughly reviewed and programmes were re-oriented to respond to the newly emerging challenges, to the priorities defined by the authorities and to the demands of the population. It was essential for the EU to accompany the Tunisian transition process and to contribute to the reduction of socio-economic inequalities. After 2011, the role of Tunisian civil society became more prominent and several actions were funded to strengthen the capacity building of these actors and promote an open dialogue.
For the financial period 2014-2020, a first programming document called the Single Support Framework (SSF) 2014-2016 has been adopted.
Priority sectors, key objectives, results and indicative financial allocations are outlined in the document and are based on extensive consultations with Tunisian and international stakeholders.
In continuity with 2011-2013, EU assistance to Tunisia in 2014-2016 focuses on three priority sectors:
- Socio-Economic reforms for inclusive growth, competitiveness and integration
- Strengthening fundamental elements of democracy
- Sustainable regional and local development
Complementary support for capacity development and civil society has also been provided outside these priority sectors.
The funding comes from the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI).
For the period 2014-2020, the indicative allocation could range between €725 and €886 million (i.e. an average of €115 million yearly). For the years 2014 and 2015, the allocation amounted to €234 million.
Moreover, Tunisia is eligible for the "More for more" incentive mechanism, (so called Umbrella funds) rewarding progress in reforms. In 2014, Tunisia received €50 million in Umbrella funds and in 2015 €71.8 million in addition to the bilateral allocation.
In 2014, the EU allocated €169 million under the European Instrument for the Neighbourhood (IEV) to accompany Tunisia in its political transition and its macroeconomic stabilization efforts (€119 million from the bilateral allocation and €50 million from the Umbrella funds) The EU's assistance in 2014 aimed at supporting economic recovery (€100 million); the reform of justice (€15 million); the strengthening of the audiovisual media sector (€10 million); the promotion of gender equality (€7 million); the support in the improvement of living conditions in disadvantaged urban districts (€28 million); border management and international protection of migrants (€3 million), as well as an additional programme focusing on cross-cutting issues such as support to civil society and capacity building (€6 million).
Funds committed in 2015 as part of EU bilateral cooperation (Annual Action Programme 2015) amounts to €186.8 million (€115 million from the bilateral allocation and €71.8 million from the Umbrella funds). The first part of the 2015 bilateral assistance (five programmes for an amount of €116.8 million) was adopted through urgent procedure in July 2015 to swiftly respond to the Bardo and Sousse terrorist attacks and subsequent significant negative impact on the Tunisian economic situation.
The five adopted programmes are as follows: support to Private sector, vocational training and employment (€32 million); support to the Security sector reform (€23 million); Decentralisation and integrated development of regions (€43 million); Programme in support to the Association Agreement and the integration process (€12.8 million); Support for the cultural sector (€6 million). The second part of the 2015 Annual Action Programme has been adopted in December 2015tosupport the country's socio-economic reforms and its tourism sector for a total amount of €70 million.
For the 2007-2013 period, bilateral assistance committed to Tunisia totalled €775 million – under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), including significant additional funding granted through the incentive-based SPRING programme.
The main focus of EU support to Tunisia after the revolution included the core sectors of good governance and democracy, economic reform and recovery as well as support to social sector and the environment.
More for more approach:
On the occasion of the 2011 review of its European Neighbourhood Policy, the EU introduced the more-for-more principle: the EU will develop stronger partnerships and offer greater incentives to countries that make more progress towards democratic reform – free and fair elections, freedom of expression, of assembly and of association, judicial independence, fight against corruption and democratic control over the armed forces.
SPRING programme: Between 2011 and 2013, the SPRING − Support for Partnership, Reforms and Inclusive Growth − programme for the Southern Neighbourhood provided assistance on a 'more for more' basis for partner countries showing sustained commitments to and progress in reforms.
Tunisia was the first beneficiary of EU funding from SPRING. An initial €20 million was allocated to Tunisia in 2011, followed by €80 million in 2012 and another €55 million in 2013.
Umbrella programme: Under the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework, SPRING funds were replaced by the so-called Umbrella programme funds. In 2014, Tunisia was the first recipient of Umbrella funds with an amount of €50 million and €71.8 million in 2015.
The revised 2015 ENP, adopted in October 2015, retains the "more for more" principle.
Support to Civil Society:
Since 2011, the EU has given even greater importance to civil society in the Southern Neighbourhood; subsequently increased support to NGOs was committed and regular consultation spaces were ensured to promote a more structured dialogue between the EU and civil society organisations.
In Tunisia, support to civil society has become a pivotal aspect of EU cooperation in the country.
The EU Delegation is currently responsible for a total of 68 projects worth €58.5 million, funded by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Non State Actors programme (NSA), the Civil Society Facility and the ENPI/ENI instruments. The projects, implemented by local and international NGOs, range from support to women's rights, freedom of expression and promotion of democratic values, fight against torture, domestic observation of elections, support to the development of an independent civil society and the involvement of citizens' associations in the definition of the country's reform programme to support to local development. Calls for proposals are launched regularly on a variety of topics, covering the different programmes and sectors of intervention.
A specific Programme to Support Civil Society (PASC) worth €7 million is currently under implementation. This programme aims to support the capacity building of civil society organisations so that they can better contribute to the development and the democratic transition of the country. The programme facilitates dialogue and partnerships between civil society organisations and public actors, and makes recommendations for legislative reviews related to actions promoted by NGOs as well as their working environment.
The EU co-funded the creation of the Jamaity.org platform in 2014, bringing together more than 1600 Tunisian civil society organisations. The online platform provides information and geo-localisation on projects, resources, events, funding opportunities, documents and tools. This aims to be the only platform for civil society in Tunisia and should provide links to all other relevant initiatives and stakeholders.
Civil society organisations are also called to submit their contributions in the preparation of the EU-Tunisia Sub-committee, annual progress report and other relevant programming documents and policy papers – maintaining a close dialogue on all issues of common interest.
Tunisia is an active participant in a wide range of regional initiatives targeting the Maghreb and the Neighbourhood South region funded under the ENI and focusing on different sectors such as the economy and the business environment; education, training and research; culture and media; migration and asylum; justice, freedom and security; environment, climate change and energy. Furthermore, Tunisia participates in cross-border cooperation and in initiatives open to the Southern Neighbourhood countries: Erasmus+, TAIEX, SIGMA, and the Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF). The NIF in Tunisia primarily targets investment projects in transport infrastructure, wastewater management, financing of small business, water and energy efficiency.
Other budget lines
In addition to the bilateral and regional ENI/ENPI funds, Tunisia is eligible and benefits from funding under several thematic instruments and programmes, for instance: the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR - €1.2 million in 2014), the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), or the thematic programme for Civil society organisations and Local Authorities in development (€2.4 million in 2014). In 2014, Tunisia also benefitted from an European Election Observation Mission (€3 million).
Moreover, the EU has also approved macro-financial assistance to Tunisia for an amount of € 300 million (2014). The first tranche of €100 million was disbursed in May 2015 and the second €100 million tranche in December 2015.
During the period 2007-2013, Tunisia also benefitted from the Erasmus Mundus programme, which enhanced mobility and co-operation with the EU in the field of higher education, as well as the Tempus programme which supported the modernisation of higher education. Both programmes have been integrated in the Erasmus+ programme which has been launched at the beginning of 2014 and for which Tunisia remains eligible.