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ECR

Free trade agreement with EU will strengthen Tunisia’s democratic process

26 February 2016

Free trade agreement with EU will strengthen Tunisia’s democratic process

The European Parliament has adopted a series of recommendations on trade negotiations that have begun between the EU and Tunisia.

The European Parliament has adopted a series of recommendations on trade negotiations that have begun between the EU and Tunisia. “A trade agreement could be a catalyst for political stability and economic development in Tunisia. This is very important for a country where the democratic process still suffers growing pains,” said European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) MEP Sander Loones, who is a shadow rapporteur for this report. “By building extensive trade relations with a country in a volatile region, the EU can hopefully get a better grip on the migration flow towards Europe. We need more stable partners in the region.”

In early 2011, Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring. The Jasmine Revolution put an end to the dictatorial regime of President Ben Ali and marked the beginning of a fragile democratic process. The joining of forces within Tunisian society has ensured that the country, despite the appalling socio-economic conditions, has not become bogged down in a completely hopeless conflict. Loones: “In the adopted resolution, the European Parliament recognizes the democratic steps that Tunisia has already taken. Negotiations for a free trade agreement with the EU are a key element for further Tunisian democratic development. Profound economic reforms in areas such as trade in services, effective investment protection and a better trade access to the European markets will produce growth and jobs.”

Loones also refers to the possible impact of trade agreements on migration towards Europe: “A few weeks ago Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans declared that sixty percent of all asylum seekers have economic motives. Timmermans also said that it is mainly immigrants from Morocco and Tunisia who are trying to get to Europe through Turkey. The conclusion of a trade agreement and the implementation of economic reforms can offer the Tunisian people a better future to build a decent life in their own country.”

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