Planned visits by Germany and Italy as well as the EU Commission’s Renewed Action Plan and Third Progression report of the Migration Partnership Framework identifying Tunisia as one of the priority countries reveal increasing interest from EU and Member States in cooperation with Tunisia on migration control.

Germany and Italy are both mounting the pressure on the Tunisian authorities with planned visits in the near future where readmission of rejected asylum seekers will be discussed. The European Commission has identified Tunisia in its Renewed Action Plan on return policy as a priority country to conclude a readmission agreement in imitation of Belgium, which has done this in December 2016.

EU talks with Tunisia include simplifying visa procedures in exchange for a readmission agreement that would make it easier for the EU to deport Tunisians staying illegally in Europe, or other nationals who arrived from Tunisia. For the EU to deport nationals who arrived from Tunisia, Tunisia would need to be recognised as a ‘safe third country.’ According to a joint statement from NGOs in Germany, Italy and, Tunisia does not qualify as safe given the lack of effective asylum legislation and adequate reception capacity. The statement also points out that there are no human rights safeguards in place in Tunisia. The NGOs call for increased EU support for Tunisia’s fight against terrorism without linkages to migration control and readmission.

On March 2, a press release from the EU Commission calls for accelerated delivery of results under the Migration Partnership Framework and actions along the Mediterranean Route further illustrates the intensified focus on migration control at the Southern EU borders.

Photo: (cc) Conor Luddy