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Co-operation programmes 2007-2013
As from 2007, the European Union's priorities in terms of financial co-operation with Tunisia fall under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. The strategic framework for European Union's co-operation with Tunisia is described by the Country Strategy Paper, which at present covers the 2007-2013 time span.
In addition to the bilateral funding and the twinning co-operation under European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, Tunisia is also eligible for several thematic budget lines.
In the immediate aftermath of the revolution in 2011, the EU acted swiftly to support Tunisia. It was quick to recognise the challenges of political and economic transition faced by Tunisia as well as the need to adapt its approach to relations with Tunisia and its other southern neighbours to help push forward reforms. For the period 2011-2013, the EU significantly raised the amount earmarked for Tunisia.
Recognising the substantial reform progress made by Tunisia since the revolution, the EU decided that Tunisia should be the first beneficiary of financial support from SPRING (Support for Partnership, Reforms and Inclusive Growth). This new umbrella programme for the Southern Neighbourhood makes available support on a 'more-for-more' basis to partner countries showing sustained commitment to, and progress in, reforms. An initial €20 million amount was made available for Tunisia in 2011, followed by another allocation of €80 million for 2012. The 2013 allocation is still to be announced.
The 2013 Annual Action Programme includes one main action: a budget support programme to support the democratic transition process in Tunisia. This action will be consolidated by two special measures: one consisting of a special window for Tunisia under the Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes and the other one consisting of a technical assistance project in support of an infrastructure project aiming at treating the waste of phospho-gypsum in the Gulf of Gabès.
The European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument
Within the framework of the Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013 , two National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) define priorities for financial co-operation for 2007-2010 and for 2011-2013.
The NIP 2007-2010 foresees an overall allocation of €300 million, focusing on (1) Economic governance, competitiveness and convergence with the EU (€123 million overall), (2) Improvements in employability (€65 million) and (3) Growth and sustainable development (Environment/energy, water, research and innovation, €112 million).
The NIP 2011-2013 (available only in French) which foresaw an initial indicative budget of €240 million, was increased by €150 million i.e. a total of €390 million.
Tunisia benefits from the Twinning Instrument and from the programmes TAIEX (Technical Assistance Information Exchange) and SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Government and Management) which enable beneficiary countries like Tunisia to have twinning projects with administrations from the different EU member States in order to gain experiences of approximation and implementation of EU legislation or to improve their public institutions and management systems.
In addition, there are bilateral cooperation programmes which also complement the twinning projects. Among them, there was the programme of support to the implementation of the Association Agreement (P3A) for an amount of €20 million which funded 17 twinning projects; the programme of support to the implementation of the Association Agreement and to the Action Plan of the European Neighbourhood Policy (P3A2) for an amount of €30 million which funded 19 twinning projects; the programme of support to the Association Agreement and to the Transition for an amount of €10 million adopted in March 2012 and which has so far funded 8 actions in the following areas: constitutional process, fight against torture, support to the Tunisian radio, prevention of violence against women, protection of migrants/asylum seekers, as well as the process to recover the frozen assets.
A second phase of the programme of support to the Association Agreement and to the Transition (P3AT II) for an amount of €15 million was adopted by the Commission late 2012.
Other budget lines
Beyond the bilateral geographic instrument as defined in the NIPs, Tunisia is also eligible for additional funds under the thematic programmes, notably the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Instrument for Stability, Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development, Investing in People and Migration & Asylum.
Since the revolution in 2011, an increased need for support to new thematic projects related to good governance (which is a cross-cutting issue of the NIP 2011-2013) has been expressed and has led to new projects being implemented.
Co-operation until 2006
Tunisia was one of the major beneficiaries of the programme. The annual average commitment amounted to €80 million and the performance in the implementation of the programmes can be judged as very satisfactory. During MEDA, funds were concentrated on a limited number of priority sectors. The European Commission's financial co-operation strategy with Tunisia mainly aimed to achieve the right balance between action in the political and in the economic and social spheres. Community assistance was delivered both through traditional projects and budget support programmes.
During the first phase of the MEDA programme from 1995-1999, commitments of €428 million were matched by payments of €168 million, making for a commitment/payment ratio of 39 %. Under MEDA II (2000-2006), this percentage considerably increased: 95% of the €517.6 million committed was actually disbursed.
For European Neighbourhood Policy and EU policy towards Tunisia see the European External Action Service website.
More information on EU relations with Tunisia is available on the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Tunisia (available only in French). For trade relations see the Trade Directorate-General website.