*Métaliste sur le Memorandum_of_Understanding (MoU) avec la Tunisie* Europe Union_européenne EU…


  • “Action file” on Tunisia outlines EU’s externalisation plans

    An “action file” obtained by Statewatch lays out the objectives and activities of the EU’s cooperation on migration with Tunisia – whose government was heavily criticized by the European Parliament this week for “an authoritarian reversal and an alarming backslide on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

    Externalisation of migration control

    The document (pdf), produced as part of the #Operational_Coordination_Mechanism_for_the_External_Dimension_of_Migration (#MOCADEM) and circulated within the Council in December 2023, summarizes ongoing EU efforts to externalise migration and border control to Tunisia. It covers the main developments since the signature of the EU-Tunisia Memorandum of Understanding of July 2023.

    The MoU is cited in the document as a cooperation “framework” whose implementation shall “continue”. Criticism also continues, with the organization Refugees International arguing:

    “The short-term securitisation approach to Tunisia advanced by Team Europe is… likely to fail on at least two fronts: both on its own terms by failing to stem irregular migration, and on legal and ethical terms by tying EU support to the inevitability of grave human rights abuses by Tunisian authorities.”

    From the document it is clear that the EU has intensified political and technical outreach to Tunisia through high-level visits from both EU and member state representatives and that the Tunisian authorities are involved in different initiatives, including through EU agencies, such as Europol and Frontex. The European Police College (CEPOL), the EU Agency for Asylum (EUAA) and Eurojust are also mentioned as potential actors for cooperation.

    The measures listed in the document target all potential migration from Tunisia to the EU. However, distinctions are drawn – including in the language used – between measures addressed to non-Tunisian nationals and measures addressed to Tunisian nationals.

    Measures addressed to non-Tunisian nationals

    For non-Tunisian nationals, “preventing irregular departures from, as well as irregular arrivals to Tunisia” is the key objective of ongoing cooperation in the areas of border management, anti-smuggling and search and rescue. The EU provides Tunisia different amounts of funding through existing projects.

    Border management, including search and rescue

    the EU finances the projects Strengthening the Tunisian Coast Guard Training Pillar, run by ICMPD (2023-2026) and the EUTF funded Border Management Programme for the Maghreb region (BMP-Maghreb) (2018-2024). Both projects aim at developing the Tunisian authorities’ border control capacity, for both land and sea borders, thus including search and rescue activities. This is done through the donation of equipment and the training of the Garde National of Tunisia and the Navy.

    As for equipment, details about the delivery of boats, engines and spare parts for putting search and rescue vessels to Tunisia are included in the document, including the provision of fuel. A new contract will “build and equip a command-and-control centre for the Tunisian national guard at the border with Libya,” to enhance cross-border cooperation with Libya.

    With regard to training, the document mentions a session for two officials in Rome as well as the participation of the Tunisian border control authorities in a Frontex workshop organised in the context of Joint Operation Themis. The MOCADEM reports that Tunisia considers talks on a working arrangement with Frontex “pre-mature.”


    The EU pursues the Anti-smuggling Operational Partnership (ASOP) to try to develop the Tunisian police capacity to investigate, prosecute and convict smugglers. Training is also key in this area.

    The document mentions a mentorship programme between Tunisia and the EU Member States on migrant smuggling. Cross-border cooperation in investigations is encouraged, also through Europol, information campaigns (in North Africa and along the Central Mediterranean), and regional action. There is an ongoing discussion on a Europol agreement to exchange personal data between Europol and Tunisian authorities.

    Return and reintegration of non-Tunisian nationals

    the EU finances IOM’s project on Migrant Protection, Return and Reintegration in North Africa, concretely supporting assisted voluntary return from Tunisia to countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The MOCADEM document states that the EU engages “with Tunisian authorities to develop a national mechanism for returns facilitation.”

    Direct capacity-building of national authorities to return non-Tunisian nationals to their country of origin is a novelty in the EU migration policies. This is a follow-up of the objective spelled out in the EU-Tunisia MoU of “developing a system for the identification and return of irregular migrants already present in Tunisia”. It is reported that a “new technical assistance programme to further support the return system in Tunisia is under preparation.”

    International protection for non-Tunisian nationals

    As usual, protection programmes receive much lower funding than other cooperation objectives for the securitisation of migration. In Tunisia, the EU will fund a project run by the UNCHR to enhance reception and access to international protection for asylum seekers and refugees.

    Measures addressed to Tunisian nationals

    For Tunisian nationals, the EU aims to increase return and readmission of Tunisian nationals deemed to be irregularly staying in the EU to Tunisia, privileging so-called “assisted voluntary return” and reintegration projects for Tunisian nationals over forced returns. At the same time, the EU stresses the importance of increasing opportunities for legal migration through the launch of a “Talent Partnership” and better visa conditions for Tunisian nationals.


    the EU finances a national reintegration support mechanism called “Tounesna,” as well as the Frontex Joint Reintegration Services, for which Frontex launched a new call for proposals. Key actors in this area are the High Level Network for Return, chaired by the EU Return Coordinator and composed of representatives of all Member States and Frontex.

    In October 2023, Tunisia was identified as one of the seven countries targeted for joint deportation actions. The document reports that the negotiations for an EU-Tunisia readmission agreement and visa facilitation agreements, which started in 2016, have been on hold since 2019 and that “Tunisia has shown no interest to date to relaunch the negotiations.”

    Legal migration

    The EU finances pilot projects under the Mobility Partnership Facility (MPF) and the regional project THAMM (2018-2023), which received extra funding. Again, the launch of an EU-Tunisia Talent Partnership is announced through a Joint Roadmap for a Talent Partnership, which is yet to be finalized.

    In the EU-Tunisia MoU, the EU promised to “take appropriate measures to facilitate legal mobility between the two Parties, including facilitating the granting of visas by reducing delays, costs and administrative procedure.” However, in this document there are no prospects for cooperation on visa policy. The document merely contains a reminder that visa policy is conditional on readmission cooperation.

    Ongoing cooperation

    While the European Parliament this week condemned a decision by the Commission to release €150 million to Tunisia through an urgent written procedure, bypassing the normal-decision making process, with a resolution that said the North African country is undergoing “an authoritarian reversal and an alarming backslide on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

    The resolution goes on to say that “over the last year, President Kais Saied has had opposition politicians, judges, media workers and civil society activists arbitrarily arrested and detained.”

    However, the cooperation being coordinated through MOCADEM remains largely beyond the reach of parliamentary scrutiny. As highlighted by a separate article published today by Statewatch and Migration-Control.info, the parliament’s lawyers agree with MEPs that this needs to change.

    #Tunisie #externalisation #migrations #réfugiés #financement #Kais_Saied #accord #frontières #EU #UE #Union_européenne #contrôles_frontaliers


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  • European Commission accused of ‘bankrolling dictators’ by MEPs after Tunisia deal

    Members of justice committee say €150m in EU funding went straight to country’s president, Kais Saied

    The European Commission has been accused of “bankrolling dictators” by senior MEPs who have claimed that the €150m it gave to Tunisia last year in a migration and development deal has ended up directly in the president’s hands.

    A group of MEPs on the human rights, justice and foreign affairs committees at the European parliament launched a scathing attack on the executive in Brussels, expressing anxiety over reports that the commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, was about to seal a similar deal with Egypt.

    The Greek migration minister, Dimitris Kairidis, confirmed late on Wednesday that a joint declaration between the EU and Egypt had been agreed and would be formally unveiled when von der Leyen and the leaders of Greece, Italy and Belgium visit Cairo on Sunday.

    The agreement sees Egypt receiving an aid package of €7.4bn (£6.3bn) “mostly in loans” in return for the country “committing to work harder on migration”, he told the Guardian, adding: “I have said, time and again to my colleagues, that we need to support Egypt which has been so helpful in managing migration and so important for the stability of North Africa and the wider Middle East.”

    Kairidis, who held talks with the Egyptian ambassador to Greece on Wednesday, confirmed there had been no boats leaving directly from Egypt, even if arrivals on southern Greek islands of migrants travelling through Libya had soared this year. “Egypt is not only hosting 9 million refugees, it has been very effective in controlling illegal migration,” he said.

    The MEPs have accused the commission of refusing to answer questions on the deal with Tunisia and worry that it is looking at a series of “ad hoc” deals with other African countries without regard to democracy and rule of law in those countries.

    “It seems that we are bankrolling dictators across the region. And that is not the Europe that we want to see. That is not the place which the EU should be holding in the world,” said the French MEP Mounir Satouri, a member of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee.

    At a press conference in Strasbourg, he claimed the money – pledged to Tunisia last year as part of a wider pact aimed at curbing a surge in migration to Italy and people-smuggling – had been diverted, saying that the €150m was supposed to have been invested directly in an EU-agreed project but instead had been “transferred to the president directly”.

    Fellow MEPs said there had been an “authoritarian shift” in Tunisia under its president, Kais Saied, but the commissioners had gone ahead with the deal anyway.

    A spokesperson for the EU commission said MEPs were entitled to express their views but that it was better to build partnerships to improve democracy and human rights than to “break off relations” and see the situation deteriorate.

    “What I can say is that we are absolutely convinced of the necessity to work with countries in our neighbourhood, taking into account the realities on the ground,” the spokesperson said. “We know the criticism related to human rights in those countries, and it is obvious that this is an issue and that these are issues that we take up with those countries.”

    The spokesperson added there were “specific mechanisms in place to discuss human rights with the countries in the region, including Egypt”.

    The Danish MEP Karen Melchior, coordinator of the justice committee, said parliamentarians’ concerns about the Tunisia deal were “being continually ignored” and that commissioners refused to answer their questions or take their concerns seriously.

    “How can we continue to have a memorandum of understanding, how can we give budget support without conditionality to Tunisia, when things are going from bad to worse?” she said.

    “To sign an agreement with President Saied, who is continuing to suppress opposition and democracy in Tunisia – this is not the way the EU should be acting. This is not the way that Team Europe should be doing our foreign policy.”

    The chair of the human rights committee, Udo Bullman, attacked what he said was a “hush-hush” deal that had been rushed through.

    “The commission has to explain why there was so much urgency in the agreement of last summer – why it, hush-hush, very quickly before Christmas, [said] it was of the ‘highest urgency’ and just gave the money … without any critical debate,” he said, adding this was a question for the EU’s commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, and for von der Leyen.

    Michael Gahler, the German CDU MEP who was blocked from visiting Tunisia by the local authorities last year, said the Tunisian people should not be abandoned in the face of “Saied’s autocratic rule” and economic decline.

    “That requires us to make sure that European taxpayers’ money truly benefits the Tunisian people and the civil society … and why it has to be clear that European funding to Tunisia needs to be adequately conditioned to that end,” he said.

    The concerns are being voiced this week as the EU parliament’s five-year mandate draws to a close before elections in June, with MEPs keen to lay down red lines for any future deals the executive in Brussels intends to do.

    Sara Prestianni, the advocacy director for the NGO EuroMed Rights, said she was concerned the EU was about to make a similar “strategic and political” mistake with Cairo, pledging vast sums of money without setting conditions involving enough financial oversight or guarantees on human rights. “It would be an error, particularly if it [the Tunisia deal] is replicated with Egypt,” she said.

    Satouri, who is also the parliament’s special rapporteur for Egypt, said: “We need to ensure democratic procedures are followed before money is disbursed. These are not the private fund of Commissioner Várhelyi. These are European funds.”

    #Tunisie #externalisation #migrations #réfugiés #financement #Kais_Saied #accord


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  • Fewer boat crossings, visit to Frontex : EU and Tunisia implement migration pact

    Despite an alleged repayment of funds for migration defence, Tunisia is cooperating with the EU. Fewer refugees are also arriving across the Mediterranean – a decrease by a factor of seven.

    In June, the EU Commission signed an agreement on joint migration control with Tunisia. According to the agreement, the government in Tunis will receive €105 million to monitor its borders and “combat people smuggling”. Another €150 million should flow from the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) in the coming years for the purposes of border management and countering the “smuggling” of migrants.

    Tunisia received a first transfer under the agreement of €67 million in September. The money was to finance a coast guard vessel, spare parts and marine fuel for other vessels as well as vehicles for the Tunisian coast guard and navy, and training to operate the equipment. Around €25 million of this tranche was earmarked for “voluntary return” programmes, which are implemented by the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organisation for Migration.

    However, a few weeks after the transfer from Brussels, the government in Tunis allegedly repaid almost the entire sum. Tunisia “does not accept anything resembling favours or alms”, President Kais Saied is quoted as saying. Earlier, the government had also cancelled a working visit by the Commission to implement the agreement.

    Successes at the working level

    Despite the supposed U-turn, cooperation on migration prevention between the EU and Tunisia has got off the ground and is even showing initial successes at the working level. Under the agreement, the EU has supplied spare parts for the Tunisian coast guard, for example, which will keep “six ships operational”. This is what Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote last week to MEPs who had asked about the implementation of the deal. Another six coast guard vessels are to be repaired by the end of the year.

    In an undated letter to the EU member states, von der Leyen specifies the equipment aid. According to the letter, IT equipment for operations rooms, mobile radar systems and thermal imaging cameras, navigation radars and sonars have been given to Tunisia so far. An “additional capacity building” is to take place within the framework of existing “border management programmes” implemented by Italy and the Netherlands, among others. One of these is the EU4BorderSecurity programme, which among other things provides skills in sea rescue and has been extended for Tunisia until April 2025.

    The Tunisian Garde Nationale Maritime, which is part of the Ministry of the Interior, and the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre benefit from these measures. This MRCC has already received an EU-funded vessel tracking system and is to be connected to the “Seahorse Mediterranean” network. Through this, the EU states exchange information about incidents off their coasts. This year Tunisia has also sent members of its coast guards to Italy as liaison officers – apparently a first step towards the EU’s goal of “linking” MRCC’s in Libya and Tunisia with their “counterparts” in Italy and Malta.

    Departures from Tunisia decrease by a factor of seven

    Since the signing of the migration agreement, the departures of boats with refugees from Tunisia have decreased by a factor of 7, according to information from Migazin in October. The reason for this is probably the increased frequency of patrols by the Tunisian coast guard. In August, 1,351 people were reportedly apprehended at sea. More and more often, the boats are also destroyed after being intercepted by Tunisian officials. The prices that refugees have to pay to smugglers are presumably also responsible for fewer crossings; these are said to have risen significantly in Tunisia.

    State repression, especially in the port city of Sfax, has also contributed to the decline in numbers, where the authorities have expelled thousands of people from sub-Saharan countries from the centre and driven them by bus to the Libyan and Algerian borders. There, officials force them to cross the border. These measures have also led to more refugees in Tunisia seeking EU-funded IOM programmes for “voluntary return” to their countries of origin.

    Now the EU wants to put pressure on Tunisia to introduce visa requirements for individual West African states. This is to affect, among others, Côte d’Ivoire, where most of the people arriving in the EU via Tunisia come from and almost all of whom arrive in Italy. Guinea and Tunisia come second and third among these nationalities.

    Reception from the Frontex Director

    In September, three months after the signing of the migration agreement, a delegation from Tunisia visited Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, with the participation of the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defence. The visit from Tunis was personally received by Frontex Director Hans Leijtens. EU officials then gave presentations on the capabilities and capacities of the border agency, including the training department or the deportation centre set up in 2021, which relies on good cooperation with destination states of deportation flights.

    Briefings were also held on the cross-border surveillance system EUROSUR and the “Situation Centre”, where all threads from surveillance with ships, aircraft, drones and satellites come together. The armed “permanent reserve” that Frontex has been building up since 2021 was also presented to the Tunisian ministries. These will also be deployed in third countries, but so far only in Europe in the Western Balkans.

    However, Tunisia still does not want to negotiate such a deployment of Frontex personnel to its territory, so a status agreement necessary for this is a long way off. The government in Tunis is also not currently seeking a working agreement to facilitate the exchange of information with Frontex. Finally, the Tunisian coast guard also turned down an offer to participate in an exercise of European coast guards in Greece.

    Model for migration defence with Egypt

    Aiding and abetting “smuggling” is an offence that the police are responsible for prosecuting in EU states. If these offences affect two or more EU states, Europol can coordinate the investigations. This, too, is now to get underway with Tunisia: In April, EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson had already visited Tunis and agreed on an “operational partnership to combat people smuggling” (ASOP), for which additional funds will be made available. Italy, Spain and Austria are responsible for implementing this police cooperation.

    Finally, Tunisia is also one of the countries being discussed in Brussels in the “Mechanism of Operational Coordination for the External Dimension of Migration” (MOCADEM). This working group was newly created by the EU states last year and serves to politically bundle measures towards third countries of particular interest. In one of the most recent meetings, the migration agreement was also a topic. Following Tunisia’s example, the EU could also conclude such a deal with Egypt. The EU heads of government are now to take a decision on this.


    #Europe #Union_européenne #EU #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #accord #gestion_des_frontières #aide_financière #protocole_d'accord #politique_migratoire #externalisation #Memorandum_of_Understanding (#MoU) #Tunisie #coopération #Frontex #aide_financière #Neighbourhood_Development_and_International_Cooperation_Instrument (#NDICI) #gardes-côtes_tunisiens #militarisation_des_frontières #retours_volontaires #IOM #OIM #UNHCR #EU4BorderSecurity_programme #Seahorse_Mediterranean #officiers_de_liaison #arrivées #départs #chiffres #statistiques #prix #Frontex #operational_partnership_to_combat_people_smuggling (#ASOP) #Mechanism_of_Operational_Coordination_for_the_External_Dimension_of_Migration (#MOCADEM)

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  • The EU-Tunisia Memorandum of Understanding : A Blueprint for Cooperation on Migration ?

    On July 16, 2023, a memorandum of understanding, known as the “migrant deal”, was signed between the EU and Tunisia, at a time when the EU is trying to find ways to limit the arrival of irregular migrants into its territory. The memorandum, however, raises some concerns regarding its content, form, and human rights implications.

    This past year, Tunisia became the primary country of departure for migrants attempting to reach the European Union via Italy through the Central Mediterranean route. With a sharp increase of arrivals in the first few months of 2023, which further accelerated during the summer, cooperation with Tunisia has turned into a key priority in the EU’s efforts to limit migration inflows.

    On July 16, 2023, after complicated negotiations, Olivér Várhelyi, the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, and Mounir Ben Rjiba, Secretary of State to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Migration and Tunisians Abroad, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on “a strategic and global partnership between the European Union and Tunisia,” published in the form of a press release on the European Commission’s website. President Ursula von der Leyen labeled the deal as a “blueprint” for future arrangements, reiterating the commission’s intention to work on similar agreements with other countries. The MoU, however, in terms of its content, form, and the human rights concerns it raises, falls squarely within current trends characterizing EU cooperation on migration with third countries.
    The content of the agreement

    Known as the “migrant deal,” the MoU covers five areas of cooperation: macro-economic stability, economy and trade, green energy transition, people-to-people contacts, and migration and mobility. The EU agreed to provide €105 million to enhance Tunisia’s border control capabilities while facilitating entry to highly-skilled Tunisians, and €150 million in direct budgetary support to reduce the country’s soaring inflation. It further foresees an extra €900 million in macro-economic support conditioned on Tunisia agreeing to sign an International Monetary Fund bailout. In exchange, Tunisia committed to cooperate on the fight against the smuggling and trafficking of migrants, to carry out search and rescue operations within its maritime borders, and to readmit its own nationals irregularly present in the EU—an obligation already existent under customary international law. Much to Italy’s disappointment, and unlike what happened in the case of Turkey in 2016, Tunisia refused to accept the return of non-Tunisian migrants who transited through the country to reach the EU, in line with the position it has occupied since the onset of the negotiations.

    What was agreed on seems to be all but new, seemingly reiterating past commitments

    Overall, what was agreed on seems to be all but new, seemingly reiterating past commitments. As for funding, the EU had been providing support to Tunisia to strengthen its border management capabilities since 2015. More broadly, and despite its flaws, the MoU embeds the current carrot-and-stick approach to EU cooperation with third countries, systematically using other external policies of interest to these nations, such as development assistance, trade and investments, and energy—coupled with promises of (limited) opportunities for legal mobility—to induce third countries to cooperate on containing migration flows.
    The legal nature of the agreement

    The MoU embeds the broader trend of de-constitutionalization and informalization of EU cooperation with third countries, which first appeared in the 2005 “Global Approach to Migration” and the 2011 “Global Approach to Migration and Mobility”, and substantially grew in the aftermath of the 2015 refugee crisis, with the EU-Turkey Statement and the “Joint Way Forward on migration with Afghanistan” being the most prominent examples, in addition to several Mobility Partnerships. The common denominator among these informal arrangements consisted of the use of instruments outside the constitutional framework established for concluding international agreements, notably Article 218 on the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), to agree on bilateral commitments that usually consist in the mobilization of different EU policy areas to deliver on migration containment goals.

    Recourse to informal arrangements can have its advantages, as they are capable of adapting quickly to new realities and allow for immediate implementation without requiring parliamentary ratification or authorization procedures, as highlighted by the EU Court of Auditors. However, they might fall short of constitutional guarantees, as they do not follow standard EU treaty-making rules. EU treaties are silent as to how non-binding agreements should be negotiated and concluded, and thus often lack democratic oversight, transparency, and legal certainty. They might also pose issues in terms of judicial review by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), in accordance with Article 263 of the TFEU.

    In the much-debated judgment “NF”, the General Court—the jurisdiction of first instance of the CJEU—refused to assess the legality of the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement, which was published as a press release on the website of the European Council. Indeed, the Court concluded at the time that the deal was one of member states acting in their capacity as heads of state and government, and not as part of the European Council as an EU institution, rendering the deal unattributable to the EU. The Court did not specifically refer to the legal nature of the agreement, despite all EU institutions stressing that the document was “not intended to produce legally binding effects nor constitute an agreement or a treaty” (para. 27), it being “merely ‘a political arrangement’” (para. 29).

    Overall, it is apparent that the lack of clarity regarding the procedure to be followed and the actors to be involved when it comes to the conclusion of non-binding agreements by the EU is problematic from a rule of law perspective

    The EU-Tunisia MoU, on the other hand, was signed by the European Commission alone, making it fully attributable to the EU. This means that it could be potentially challenged before the CJEU, if there is reason to believe that the content of the agreement renders it a legally-binding one, infringing on the procedure foreseen by the EU treaties, or if the competencies of the Council and the Parliament, the two other EU institutions usually involved in the conclusion of international agreements, were otherwise breached. In another case, the CJEU indeed found that, while the treaties do not regulate the matter and thus Article 218 on the TFEU does not apply, the Commission should nonetheless seek prior approval of the Council before signing an MoU in the exercise of its competencies, pursuant to Article 17 (1) of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU), due to the Council’s “policy-making” powers provided by Article 16 of the TEU. The Court, however, did not clarify whether the Commission should have likewise involved the European Parliament in light of its power to exercise “political control,” provided by Article 14 TEU. With regard to the MoU with Tunisia, however, neither of the two institutions seemed to have been involved. Overall, it is apparent that the lack of clarity regarding the procedure to be followed and the actors to be involved when it comes to the conclusion of non-binding agreements by the EU is problematic from a rule of law perspective.
    Concerns over protection of fundamental rights

    The EU-Tunisia MoU has been harshly criticized by both civil society organizations and different members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in light of the Tunisian authorities’ documented abuses and hostilities against migrants, amidst a political climate of broader democratic crisis. While vaguely referring to “respect for human rights,” the MoU does not specify how the Commission intends to ensure compliance with fundamental rights. Concerns over the agreement led the European Ombudsman—a body of the EU that investigates instances of maladministration by EU institutions—to ask the EU’s executive arm whether it had conducted a human rights impact assessment before its conclusion, as well as if it intended to monitor its implementation, and if it envisaged the suspension of funding if human rights were not respected. This adds to the growing discontent over the EU’s prioritization of securing its borders over ensuring the protection of fundamental rights of migrants, through the externalization of border controls to third countries with poor human rights records and authoritarian governments, such as Libya, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, and Sudan, among others.

    These episodes exemplify the paradox of externalization, with the EU trying to shield itself from the risk of instrumentalization of migration by third countries on one hand, and making itself dependent upon these actors’ willingness to contain migratory flows, and thus vulnerable to forms of repercussion and bad faith tactics, on the other

    In an unprecedented move, Tunisia denied entry to a group of MEPs who were due to visit the country on official duty on September 14. While no official explanation was given, the move was seen as a reaction for speaking out against the agreement. Despite this, and the fact that there is still a lack of clarity as to how compliance with fundamental rights will be guaranteed, the Commission announced that the first tranche of EU funding would be released by the end of September. However, Tunisia declared to have rejected the money precisely over the EU’s excessive focus on migration containment, although Várhelyi stated that the refusal related to budget support is unrelated to the MoU. These episodes exemplify the paradox of externalization, with the EU trying to shield itself from the risk of instrumentalization of migration by third countries on one hand, and making itself dependent upon these actors’ willingness to contain migratory flows, and thus vulnerable to forms of repercussion and bad faith tactics, on the other. Similar deals, posing similar risks, are currently envisaged with Egypt and Morocco. Moving forward, the EU should instead make efforts to create partnerships with third countries based on genuine mutually-shared interests, restoring credibility in its international relations which should be based on support for its founding values: democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

    #Tunisie #EU #Europe #Union_européenne #EU #externalisation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #accord #gestion_des_frontières #aide_financière #protocole_d'accord #politique_migratoire #externalisation #memorandum_of_understanding #MoU

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  • #Tunisie : le président, #Kaïs_Saïed, refuse les #fonds_européens pour les migrants, qu’il considère comme de la « #charité »

    Un #accord a été conclu en juillet entre Tunis et Bruxelles pour lutter contre l’immigration irrégulière. La Commission européenne a précisé que sur les 105 millions d’euros d’aide prévus, quelque 42 millions d’euros allaient être « alloués rapidement ».

    Première anicroche dans le contrat passé en juillet entre la Tunisie et l’Union européenne (UE) dans le dossier sensible des migrants. Kaïs Saïed, le président tunisien, a, en effet, déclaré, lundi 2 octobre en soirée, que son pays refusait les fonds alloués par Bruxelles, dont le montant « dérisoire » va à l’encontre de l’entente entre les deux parties.

    La Commission européenne avait annoncé le 22 septembre qu’elle commencerait à allouer « rapidement » les fonds prévus dans le cadre de l’accord avec la Tunisie afin de faire baisser les arrivées de migrants au départ de ce pays. La Commission a précisé que sur les 105 millions d’euros d’aide prévus par cet accord pour lutter contre l’immigration irrégulière, quelque 42 millions d’euros allaient être « alloués rapidement ». Auxquels s’ajoutent 24,7 millions d’euros déjà prévus dans le cadre de programmes en cours.

    « La Tunisie, qui accepte la #coopération, n’accepte pas tout ce qui s’apparente à de la charité ou à la faveur, car notre pays et notre peuple ne veulent pas de la sympathie et ne l’acceptent pas quand elle est sans respect », stipule un communiqué de la présidence tunisienne. « Par conséquence, la Tunisie refuse ce qui a été annoncé ces derniers jours par l’UE », a dit M. Saïed qui recevait son ministre des affaires étrangères, Nabil Ammar.

    Il a expliqué que ce refus n’était pas lié au « montant dérisoire (…) mais parce que cette proposition va à l’encontre » de l’accord signé à Tunis et « de l’esprit qui a régné lors de la conférence de Rome », en juillet.

    Une aide supplémentaire de 150 millions d’euros

    La Tunisie est avec la Libye le principal point de départ pour des milliers de migrants qui traversent la Méditerranée centrale vers l’Europe, et arrivent en Italie.

    Selon la Commission européenne, l’aide doit servir en partie à la remise en état de bateaux utilisés par les #garde-côtes_tunisiens et à la coopération avec des organisations internationales à la fois pour la « protection des migrants » et pour des opérations de retour de ces exilés depuis la Tunisie vers leurs pays d’origine.

    Ce #protocole_d’accord entre la Tunisie et l’UE prévoit en outre une #aide_budgétaire directe de 150 millions d’euros en 2023 alors que le pays est confronté à de graves difficultés économiques. Enfin, M. Saïed a ajouté que son pays « met tout en œuvre pour démanteler les réseaux criminels de trafic d’êtres humains ».


    #refus #Memorandum_of_Understanding (#MoU) #externalisation #migrations #asile #réfugiés #UE #EU #Union_européenne


    ajouté à la métaliste sur le #Memorandum_of_Understanding (#MoU) avec la #Tunisie :

    • Le chef de la diplomatie tunisienne : « Les Européens répètent des messages hors de l’esprit du mémorandum. C’est insultant et dégradant »

      Après deux semaines de crise sur fond de tensions migratoires, le ministre tunisien des Affaires étrangères Nabil Ammar développe dans un entretien au « Soir » le point de vue de son gouvernement sur le mémorandum d’accord avec la Commission européenne. Article réservé aux abonnésAlors que des organisations de défense des droits humains ont dénoncé des déportations massives dans le désert entre la Libye et la Tunisie, Nabil Ammar rejette la faute sur « quelques voyous ».

      La brouille est consommée. Entre l’Union européenne et la Tunisie, le ton est monté ces derniers jours sur le mémorandum d’accord signé au milieu de l’été entre Tunis et la Commission européenne, soutenu par l’Italie et les Pays-Bas. Dans un entretien au Soir, le ministre tunisien des Affaires étrangères et de la Migration, Nabil Ammar, détaille la position tunisienne dans ce dossier explosif.

      Pour cela, il faut bien comprendre de quoi l’on parle. Si l’accord comprend d’importants volets de développement économique (hydrogène vert, câbles sous-marins…), le cœur du texte porte sur la migration et prévoit 150 millions d’euros d’aide. Le pays, lui, dit refuser d’être « le garde-frontière » de l’Europe.

      Entre Tunis et la Commission, l’affaire s’est grippée après les arrivées massives à Lampedusa, venues des côtes tunisiennes. Dans la foulée, l’exécutif européen a annoncé débloquer une partie de l’aide (dans ou hors du cadre de l’accord ? Les versions divergent). Auteur d’un coup de force autoritaire, l’imprévisible et tonitruant président tunisien Kaïs Saïed a déclaré refuser la « charité ». La Commission annonçait aussi le décaissement de 60 millions (sur un autre paquet d’aide), à nouveau refusés.

      « Ce sont les Européens qui ne s’entendent pas entre eux »

      Aujourd’hui, Nabil Ammar donne très fermement sa version. « Les Européens ne sont pas clairs, à divulguer des montants un coup par ci, un coup par là. Les gens ne se retrouvent plus dans ces enveloppes, qui sont dérisoires. Même si ce n’est pas un problème de montant. Mais les Européens n’arrivaient pas à comprendre un message que l’on a répété à plusieurs reprises : “Arrêtez d’avoir cette vision de ce partenariat, comme si nous étions à la merci de cette assistance. A chaque fois, vous répétez des messages qui ne sont pas dans l’esprit de ce mémorandum d’accord, un partenariat d’égal à égal, de respect mutuel.” C’est insultant et dégradant. »

      « Il ne faut pas donner cette idée fausse, laisser penser que ce partenariat se réduit à “on vous donne quatre sous et vous faites la police en Méditerranée et vous retenez les migrants illégaux” », continue le ministre des Affaires étrangères, qui précise que « ce sont les Européens qui tenaient » au texte. « On ne veut pas être indélicat, mais ils couraient après cet accord qu’on était content de passer puisque l’on considérait que ce qui était écrit convenait aux deux parties. »

      Ces dernières années, l’UE a passé des accords migratoires avec la Libye et la Turquie, qui consistaient en somme à y délocaliser la gestion des frontières extérieures. L’ex-ambassadeur à Bruxelles, très bon connaisseur des rouages européens et chargé de négocier l’accord, croit (ou feint de croire) qu’il en était autrement avec son pays. « Ils nous l’ont dit ! “On va changer, on vous a compris.” Mais les anciens réflexes, les comptes d’épicier ont immédiatement repris. Ce langage-là n’est plus acceptable », défend-il, plaidant pour la fierté et le souverainisme de son pays, un discours dans la lignée de celui du président Saïed. « Nous sommes comme le roseau, on plie mais on ne casse pas et ce serait bien que les partenaires se le mettent en tête. »

      Alors le mémorandum est-il enterré ? « Pas du tout », veut croire Nabil Ammar qui met la responsabilité de la crise de confiance sur le dos des partenaires européens. « Cette crise est entièrement de leur part parce qu’ils n’ont pas voulu changer leur logiciel après le 16 juillet (date de signature du mémorandum, NDLR). Nous nous étions entendus sur un esprit nouveau », une coopération d’égal à égal, répète-t-il. Du côté européen, on peine à comprendre la ligne d’un régime autocratique qui souffle le chaud et le froid. « Nous n’avons dévié du mémorandum d’accord, ni du dialogue stratégique. Ce sont les Européens qui ne s’entendent pas entre eux », assure le ministre, faisant référence aux dissensions entre la Commission et les Etats membres.

      Dérive autoritaire

      Le président du Conseil Charles Michel s’est également fendu de critiques lourdes contre la méthode. Certains Etats membres, dont la Belgique, ont critiqué à la fois la forme (ils estiment n’avoir pas assez été consultés) et le fond (l’absence de référence aux droits humains et à la dérive autoritaire de Saïed). « Je vais être gentil et je ne donnerai pas les noms. Nous savons qui est pour et qui est contre », commente Nabil Ammar.

      Interrogé sur la dérive autoritaire, les atteintes aux droits des migrants ainsi que les arrestations d’opposants, le ministre détaille qu’il « n’y a pas eu un mot de critique (contre le régime tunisien, NDLR) dans ces longues réunions (avec l’UE, NDLR). C’est important de le noter ». « Pourquoi revenir aux anciens réflexes, aux comportements dégradants ? Il ne faut pas faire passer la Tunisie comme un pays qui vit de l’assistance. Cette assistance ne vaut rien par rapport aux dégâts causés par certains partenaires dans notre région. C’est d’ailleurs plutôt une réparation. »

      Questionné quant aux critiques de la ministre belge des Affaires étrangères Hadja Lahbib sur les dérives tunisiennes, Nabil Ammar estime qu’« elle est libre de faire ce qu’elle veut. J’ai vécu en Belgique. Je pourrais en dire autant et même plus. Mais je ne vais pas le faire. (…) Les Européens sont libres d’organiser leur société comme ils l’entendent chez eux et nous sommes libres d’organiser notre société, notre pays comme on l’entend. Ils doivent le comprendre. Nous avons une histoire différente et une construction différente. » Les opposants à Saïed parlent ouvertement d’une dérive dictatoriale, certainement allant jusqu’à qualifier ce régime de « pire que celui de Ben Ali ».
      Vague de violence populaire

      Ces derniers mois, une vingtaine d’opposants politiques ont été incarcérés. Ce jeudi encore, Abir Moussi, leadeuse du Parti destourien libre et dont les positions rejoignaient pourtant en certains points celles de Saïed, a été arrêtée. « Ces gens sont entre les mailles de la justice conformément à la loi et aux procédures tunisiennes. Si ces Tunisiens n’ont rien fait, ils sortiront. Et s’ils sont coupables, ils paieront », assure le chef de la diplomatie, qui défend « l’Etat de droit » tunisien. Depuis son coup de force il y a deux ans, Kaïs Saïed s’est arrogé le droit (par décret) de révoquer les juges, ce qu’il a fait à une cinquantaine de reprises.

      Quant aux atteintes aux droits humains à l’encontre de migrants subsahariens, Nabil Ammar (qui assure avoir lui-même pris en main des dossiers) rejette la faute sur « quelques voyous », qui n’auraient rien à voir avec une « politique d’Etat ». Les organisations de défense des droits humains ont dénoncé des déportations massives dans le désert entre la Libye et la Tunisie. Des images de personnes mourant de soif ont été largement diffusées. « D’autres témoignages disaient exactement le contraire, que la Tunisie avait accueilli ces gens-là et que le Croissant rouge s’est plié en quatre. Mais ces témoignages-là ne rentrent pas dans l’agenda (sic). (…) On sait qui était derrière ça, des mouvements nourrissant des témoignages à charge », continue le ministre, s’approchant de la rhétorique du président Saïed, dont les accents populistes et complotistes sont largement soulignés.

      En parallèle de ces accusations de déplacements forcés, une vague de violence populaire contre les Subsahariens s’est déchaînée (notamment dans la ville de Sfax) à la suite d’un discours présidentiel, qui mentionnait la théorie raciste du « Grand remplacement » (« Ça a été instrumentalisé dans une très large mesure. Le fait d’avoir cité une étude écrite, ça ne veut pas dire qu’il la cautionne »). Ici, Nabil Ammar défend que « la même chose se passe très souvent en Europe. Et on n’ouvre pas un procès pareil. Quelques semaines avant que je prenne mes nouvelles fonctions en Tunisie, au commissariat d’Ixelles, une Tuniso-Belge est morte très probablement sous violence policière. Pendant des mois, nous n’arrivions pas à avoir le rapport de la police », continue-t-il, faisant une référence sidérante à la mort de Sourour A.

      Questionné sur une comparaison très hasardeuse entre un décès suspect et des dizaines de morts, des atteintes aux droits humains globalement dénoncées, il ne dévie pas de sa ligne troublante : « Dans le même commissariat, c’était le troisième cas de Nord-Africain décédé. On n’en a pas fait une campagne médiatique contre la Belgique. Nous ne sommes pas traités de la même façon. C’est injuste et ça montre qu’il y a un agenda pour mettre la Tunisie dans un coin. On devient un pays raciste alors que nous sommes un melting-pot, nous sommes le Brésil de l’Afrique du Nord. » Associations de défense des droits des migrants, universités, intellectuels… à Tunis, il ne manque pas de voix pour raconter la peur des Subsahariens et leur disparition de l’espace public, pour éviter les insultes et les lynchages. Mais cette réalité-là ne semble pas au cœur des inquiétudes du ministère.
      Analyse : une autre planète

      Le moins que l’on puisse dire, c’est que Nabil Ammar ne manie pas la langue de bois. Il faut même souvent se pincer lors de l’entretien avec le ministre tunisien des Affaires étrangères. Ce proche du président Kaïs Saïed (dont il adopte les accents populistes et où point l’ombre du complotisme) prend des accents belliqueux, rares dans le milieu diplomatique. Pas question pour lui de se laisser dicter la marche d’un pays que ses ardents opposants décrivent comme une « dictature ». Personne n’a de droit de regard sur ce qui se passe en Tunisie. Alors que le haut-commissaire de l’ONU aux droits de l’homme dénonce une « répression » et des « autorités qui continuent de saper l’indépendance du pouvoir judiciaire », Nabil Ammar lui défend un « Etat de droit ».

      En Tunisie, les ONG dénoncent des dizaines de morts dans des conditions atroces, ainsi que des centaines de déportés. Aujourd’hui, des témoignages affluent sur des migrants abandonnés dans des zones rurales sans accès à un abri ou à de la nourriture. Celui qui connaît bien la Belgique va jusqu’à comparer les maltraitances racistes subies massivement à Sfax à la mort tragique de Sourour A. dans un commissariat d’Ixelles dans un parallèle qui laisse sans voix.

      Sur le mémorandum d’accord avec l’Union européenne, cet excellent connaisseur des rouages européens croit (ou feint de croire) que le cœur de l’accord ne se trouvait pas dans le deal migratoire. Et qu’il espérait développer une relation d’égal à égal avec une institution obsédée et échaudée par la crise migratoire de 2015-2016. Selon lui, ce deal n’avait rien à voir avec les précédents passés avec la Turquie et la Libye. Alors même que tout le monde, de l’autre côté de la Méditerranée, pense l’inverse.
      L’oreille de Kaïs Saïed

      Nabil Ammar connaît parfaitement les institutions européennes. Le ministre tunisien des Affaires étrangères et de l’Immigration a été ambassadeur à Bruxelles pendant deux ans et demi, nommé sous un gouvernement auquel participe notamment le parti islamiste Ennahda. Après le coup de force du président Kaïs Saïed en juillet 2021, il se pose rapidement comme un de ses ardents soutiens. On le décrit aujourd’hui comme une des rares personnes ayant l’oreille d’un président autoritaire, isolé, ne faisant confiance à personne et décrit par ses opposants comme un « dictateur ».


  • Immigration : après la #Tunisie, l’Union européenne viserait des #partenariats_migratoires avec l’#Egypte et le #Maroc

    L’#Union_européenne souhaite négocier avec l’Égypte et le Maroc des partenariats similaires à celui qu’elle vient de conclure avec la Tunisie, portant sur la lutte contre l’immigration irrégulière.

    L’UE et la Tunisie ont signé ce dimanche 16 juillet à Tunis un protocole d’accord pour un « #partenariat_stratégique », qui concerne aussi le développement économique du pays et les énergies renouvelables.

    Sur le volet migratoire, il prévoit une aide européenne de 105 millions d’euros destinée à empêcher les départs de bateaux de migrants vers l’UE depuis les côtes tunisiennes et lutter contre les passeurs.

    Mais aussi à faciliter les retours dans ce pays de Tunisiens qui sont en situation irrégulière dans l’UE, ainsi que les retours depuis la Tunisie vers leurs pays d’origine de migrants d’Afrique subsaharienne.

    La présidente de la Commission européenne Ursula von der Leyen a dit souhaiter que ce partenariat soit un #modèle pour de futurs #accords avec les pays de la région.

    L’Égypte et le Maroc sont deux pays qui pourraient être concernés, a indiqué un haut responsable européen s’exprimant sous couvert de l’anonymat, soulignant les bénéfices de ce type de partenariat pour les deux rives de la Méditerranée.

    Mais cet accord avec Tunis a aussi suscité des critiques en raison du traitement des migrants d’Afrique sub-saharienne dans ce pays du Maghreb. Des centaines de migrants ont été arrêtés en Tunisie puis « déportés » par la police, selon les ONG, vers des zones inhospitalières aux frontières avec Algérie et Libye.


    #externalisation #migrations #asile #réfugiés #frontières #partenariat #modèle_tunisien


    ajouté à la métaliste sur le #memorandum_of_understanding avec la Tunisie :

    ping @_kg_

  • L’agenzia europea che costruisce le frontiere in Tunisia

    A metà luglio è stato siglato il Memorandum of understanding tra Ue e Tunisia, con al centro il tema migratorio. Le esigenze di Tunisi sono rappresentate all’Europa anche da un’agenzia austriaca, l’Icmpd, di un cui un documento interno svela alcuni segreti Clicca per leggere l’articolo L’agenzia europea che costruisce le frontiere in Tunisia pubblicato su IrpiMedia.