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Tunisia/EU: The last lap towards “Advanced Status”!

Tunisia and the European Union have agreed to set up an ad hoc group to work on a roadmap to achieve an advanced status between the EU and Tunisia. The decision was made during the  Tunisia-European Union (EU) Association Council’s 8th session held on Tuesday in Brussels, under co-chairmanship of Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos, with attendance of European Commissioner in charge of Enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Füle.

Prospects for reinforcing these relations were discussed in depth. . Kamel Morjane voiced satisfaction at the excellent atmosphere in which the meeting took place and the EU’s positive reaction to the Tunisian document on the “advanced status,” recalling that the Tunisian request to have access to this position stems from Tunisia’s strategic choice to carry on its Euro-Mediterranean integration.

The European side voiced satisfaction at the quality of EU-Tunisia relations, describing Tunisia as “a reliable, serious and essential partner in the Mediterranean,” and at Tunisia’s will to have access to an “advanced status” in its relations with Europe as a whole, through the presentation of a document last March setting out its vision of a higher level of Tunisia-EU partnership.
Stefan Füle laid emphasis on the pioneering role played by Tunisia which is the first country from the Mediterranean southern shore to have a free-trade zone with EU and to have signed an agreement to settle trade controversies.

He described the meeting as “very productive,” and said that he was pleased that it had led to concrete results.

The two sides agreed to hold intense talks to adopt a joint document and grant Tunisia the “advanced status,” if possible by the end of the current year.

Although a timetable was not set, Commissioner Füle stated his desire for the group to start work in June so results can be seen by the end of the year.

The political dialogue between the two sides also focused on human rights and political pluralism and economic and regional issues such as the Union for the Mediterranean, the EU-Africa partnership and the situation in the Middle East.

The political dialogue between the two sides also focused on human rights and political pluralism and economic and regional issues such as the Union for the Mediterranean, the EU-Africa partnership and the situation in the Middle East.

EU-Tunisian relations are developing in the framework of the Association Agreement signed in 1995, the first to be signed by Europe with a country from the southern shores of the Mediterranean. The Agreement covers political, economic, social, scientific and cultural cooperation and provides for the gradual establishment of a free trade zone.

The Association Council is a ministerial authority established by the 1995 Tunisia-EU Association Agreement, which meets on a regular basis to assess the progress of Tunisian-European partnership and give a fresh impetus to the political relations between Tunisia and the European Union.

 The Tunisian-European partnership which has started by the signing, since 1980, of the first co-operation agreement between the two sides, is celebrating this year its 30th anniversary. It is estimated that it has largely succeeded to establish a diversified, fruitful and mutually beneficial co-operation between Tunisia and the EU.

 As part of its development vision and the constants of its foreign policy, since the Change, Tunisia has made a strategic and voluntary choice in view of a strong integration in the Euro-Mediterranean space.

 In a statement, on the occasion of this meeting, Brussels points out that “Tunisia is an important and reliable partner for the EU, with which it has forged strong relations based on shared values and mutual respect and understanding.”

 The level of partnership established between the two sides, particularly through the European contribution to the modernization and upgrading programs of Tunisia’s economy, on the basis of the forward-looking vision of Tunisia and the European Union and the future of Mediterranean relations, fully justify the reinforcement of this partnership.

 “Prospects for an advanced status have come to strengthen the major progress made by Tunisia in implementing the association agreement in force since 1998 and the action plan of the European Neighborhood Policy,” The European Union said in the same statement.

 The visit of Stefan Füle, the European Commissioner in charge of Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy on March, 2010 in Tunisia, which is his first outside the European Continent since taking office, and his statement according to which “Tunisia is, in many respects, an example for the region,” need to be stressed.


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