Friday, May 24, 2024

Tunisia and EU finalize deal on migration

(Al Jazeera Media Network) The European Union and Tunisia have signed a memorandum of understanding for a “strategic and comprehensive partnership” aimed at combatting irregular migration and boosting economic ties between the bloc and the North African country, which lies on a major route for migrants and refugees travelling to Europe.

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni held renewed talks with Tunisian President Kais Saied on Sunday as the number of migrants and refugees departing from Tunisia and trying to reach Europe has significantly increased in recent months.

Speaking at the Tunisian presidential palace, Von der Leyen hailed the accord as an investment in “shared prosperity and stability.

“Tunisia and the European Union are bound by our shared history and geography, and we share strategic interests,” she said.

Saied said there is the utmost need for a collective agreement on what he called “inhuman migration,” for which he blamed criminal networks.

“This memorandum should be coupled at the earliest time by a set of binding agreements emanating from its principles,” he said.

Rutte said the agreement would help combat human traffickers.

“It contains agreements on disrupting the business model of people smugglers and human traffickers, strengthening border control, and improving registration and return. All essential measures for bolstering efforts to stop irregular migration,” Rutte said on Twitter.

Meloni welcomed “a new and important step to deal with the migration crisis,” and invited Tunisia’s Saied to an international conference on migration on July 23.

Last month, the three leaders visited Tunisia, and the European Commission said at the time that it was considering supporting Tunisia with an aid package of up to 900 million euros as the country is roiled by economic woes and rising numbers of migrants and refugees travelling through it as they seek to reach Europe.

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