Tunisia-EU cooperation in migration management: From Mobility Partnership to containment

Written by Fatma Raach (Tunisian Association for International law) / February 2024

The particularity characterizing Tunisia-EU cooperation in migration management is the complexity of the instruments and agreements governing different issues. These instruments cover aspects related to migration, asylum, borders, and mobility. The main arrangements are related to the financing of projects (through the EU Trust Fund for Africa – EUTF) or the so-called ‘Mobility Partnership’ concluded in 2014 within the framework of the EU Tunisia Action Plan (2013 – 2017).

Furthermore, EU countries have bilateral agreements with Tunisia that cover topics such as readmission or visa facilitation for Tunisian nationals. The use of a multitude of instruments mixing both the binational dimension and the dimension involving the European Union, only complicates the landscape and makes transparent management of migration with Tunisia difficult. It’s important to emphasize that the terminology used in EU documents (draft action plan for Tunisia prepared by the Commission Services) to designate cooperation with third countries deserves to be criticized. Indeed, the concept of “migration partnership”1 does not reflect the reality of the relationships and the imbalance in relations between the EU and third countries. Although this word may suggest that cooperation is balanced, in reality it only promotes a means of liberal management aimed at involving the countries of transit and/or departure to be proactive and to align themselves with the objectives of the countries of the destination.