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Foreign Affairs MEPs visit Tunisia to support ongoing reforms

By European Parliament
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A delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, led by its chair Mr. Elmar Brok, visited Tunisia on 5-7 January 2016. MEPs met the President of the Republic of Tunisia, the Prime Minister as well as the President of the Tunisian Parliament to reiterate EU support to Tunisia and to stress the urgency of improving the political and security situation as well to continue with further reforms.

The seven-Member delegation, led by Mr Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), the Chair of the Committee, was composed of Mr Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR), Mr Michael Gahler (EPP, DE), Mr Brando Benifei (S&D, IT), Mr Gilles Pargneaux (S&D, FR), Mr Amjad Bashir (ECR, UK) and Mr Fabio Massimo Castaldo (EFDD, IT - EP Rapporteur for Tunisia).

MEPs met the President of the Republic of Tunisia, Mr Béji Caïd Essebsi, the Prime Minister, Mr Habib Essid, the President of the Tunisian Parliament, the Assemblée des Représentants du Peuple, Mr Mohammed Ennaceur, and several members of the Committee for Rights, Liberties and External Relations. The delegation held meetings with the Minister for Development, Investments and International Cooperation, Mr Yassine Brahim and with the Defence Minister, Mr Farhat Horchani.

During the visit, MEPs discussed the socio-economic situation in Tunisia and the deteriorating security environment, which is exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Libya. Both MEPs and their Tunisian counterparts stressed the urgency of improving the political and security situation in order to boost investment in the country.

MEPs expressed their condolences for the victims or the recent attacks on the presidential guard and laid floral wreaths at the memorial statue, which had been inaugurated by President Essebsi the day before their visit.

MEPs stressed the continued importance of implementing administrative, financial and judicial reform. They called for greater decentralisation of power towards legitimate local authorities and therefore the need for local elections to be held. They also pointed out that Tunisia must be empowered to take ownership of the process and that there must be proper application of the rule of law in a democratic environment.

MEPs called for the five development year plan currently being finalised by the Tunisian government to be implemented in a timely and effective manner. Positive social and economic development will only be possible with the swift implementation of this plan. The EU will indeed support an economic transformation that will allow Tunisia to become more competitive and address the worrying socio-economic situation. MEPs strongly stressed the link between security and economic development.

Furthermore, the Mr. Brok stressed the need to develop further cooperation between the EP and the Tunisian Parliament, particularly through exchanges and interparliamentary dialogue. Building strong and effective administration is a key element in the democratic process.

Finally, MEPs recalled that implementing reforms is a crucial step towards establishing democracy, an achievement of which Tunisia can be proud, particularly in the region.