European support of €110 million for tunisian economic recovery

Today the European Union (EU) approved two new financial assistance programmes for Tunisia, for a total of €110 million. These two programmes are part of the additional aid being provided by the EU to Tunisia following the January 2011 revolution, aimed at supporting the political and economic transition by improving economic and social conditions and developing new sources of employment.

The first programme, which has a budget of €90 million, supports the economic recovery measures recently adopted by the Tunisian government and is aimed at hitherto particularly disadvantaged social groups - the inland regions, unemployed graduates, the poorest families – better governance and job creation. These measures will also be supported by loans from the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the French Development Agency.

The second programme is aimed at increasing the dynamism and competitiveness of the Tunisian economy through a budget of €20 million for national modernisation policies in the services sector.

Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, stated: “The economic recovery support programme demonstrates the European Commission’s support for the recovery measures taken by the Tunisian government and its confidence in the future potential of the Tunisian economy. The Commission is determined to support the efforts of the authorities rapidly to restore stronger growth in order to promote job creation, improve social conditions for the most disadvantaged Tunisians and reduce disparities between regions. ”

This approach is based on a closer partnership with Tunisia, which was reinforced by the adoption of the Joint Communications of the European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy “A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean” and “A new response to a changing neighbourhood”.

Since the start of the Tunisian revolution the European Commission has already released further assistance for Tunisia to support the electoral process, civil society organisations, the reinforcement of fundamental freedoms and local development. The Commission is currently drawing up a new Support Programme for less‑favoured areas. A decision will be taken on this programme in the near future.

The economic recovery support programme, which has a budget of €90 million, will support the economic reforms formulated by the government to reinforce the process of economic and political transition. The measures taken will contribute to a rapid return to economic growth through ambitious measures to support economic activity; the reduction of inequalities, thanks to the readjustment of public intervention in support of hitherto particularly disadvantaged regions and social groups (inland regions, unemployed graduates and the poorest families); and better governance, guaranteeing greater transparency around the activities of the public administration.

The Programme also provides for actions in the area of public contracts, to make them more efficient and transparent; the area of micro-finance, to make its development throughout the territory more widespread and sustainable; the financial sector, to improve bank governance; and public administration, to guarantee access to administrative documents for all citizens. These wide-ranging measures contribute to reinforcing the economic and political transition, but also lay the groundwork for new management methods that are more transparent and more in line with the needs of Tunisians.

The main aims of the service competitiveness support programme, which has a budget of €20 million, are to strengthen the institutional capacities of the intermediary organisations, strengthen the capacity of Tunisian businesses to develop exports that can compete internationally and improve the sector’s business environment by better defining of its needs. The European programme will thus make it possible to reinforce the Tunisian liberalisation and integration policy, which has not achieved the expected results, particularly in terms of growth and productivity rates in the services sector, which have not yet reached their true potential.

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