Cross-border cooperation at the heart of European Union’s relations with Tunisia

The Delegation of the European Union in Tunisia has published its 2015 report: a full chapter is dedicated to cross-border cooperation, including the ENPI CBC "Mediterranean Sea Basin" Programme.

Since the revolution in 2011, the European Union has engaged with Tunisia in as many and varied projects as reform of justice system, high-speed rail in Tunis, including also support to private sector, civil society and democratic transition. This closer cooperation resulted in a tripling of EU aid to Tunisia that reached a total of one billion euros between 2011-2015.

As explained by Ms Laura Baeza, EU Ambassador to Tunisia, "the European Union can support Tunisia: it already showed it and will continue to express its solidarity for this close and old friend with whom we share the history and the sea."

Relations between the European Union and Tunisia have also been strengthened thanks to cross-border cooperation. Unlike the bilateral dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy, which involves States, this modality allows border regions of the EU and partner countries to address issues of common interest at Euro-Mediterranean level.

As a matter of fact, Tunisia is a major actor of a cooperation which goes beyond borders, notably through its participation in the ENPI CBC "Mediterranean Sea Basin" Programme: there are 70 Tunisian organizations involved – amongst Ministries, national sector agencies, regional and local administrations, universities and research centers, NGOs and companies – in 49 projects (out of the 95 projects funded under the 2007-2013 Programme). EU financial resources granted to Tunisian partners are worth €18 million, making Tunisia the fourth country at Euro-Mediterranean level in terms of funds allocated.

Environmement, economic developmement, tourism, jobs

The Programme contributes to address actual challenges in Tunisia such as environmental sustainability, enhancement of cultural heritage, sustainable tourism, economic development, or unemployment. "The main challenge here in Tunisia is jobs. The training provided for by the EGREJOB project is an opportunity to develop professional qualifications that will enable me to create my company while preserving the environment", explained Mohamed el Hedi, a young graduate from the city of Sousse.

The added value of a cross-border cooperation projects also lies in its capacity to improve dialogue and understanding in order to create long-term collaboration networks in the Mediterranean. This is exactly the opinion of Mohammed who added that "teamwork with students coming from other countries had a huge impact on me."

The human stories that are central to the ENPI CBC Med Programme will be highlighted during the Europe Days organized to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the relations between the European Union and Tunisia. They will take place at the "Palais des Congrès" of Tunis from 24th to 26th of May. On this occasion, visitors will have the opportunity to meet and discuss with different ENPI CBC Med projects implemented in Tunisia.

Download the 2015 cooperation report "European Union – Tunisia" (in French)