EU says Tunisia could return $63 million in aid amid dispute

Tunisia's President Kais Saied with President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen


As Tunisia’s dispute with Brussels escalates, the European Union (EU) has announced that Tunisia is welcome to return the $63.1 million in aid it received earlier this month, according to a report from Al Arabiya.

The EU’s declaration comes in response to Tunisian President Kais Saied’s rejection of EU aid for border control. On October 2, Saied referred to the aid, valued at $134.5 million, as “a small amount” and explained that it “lacks respect,” as reported by AP.

The EU has been grappling with a surge in migrants crossing its borders and has sought cooperation from North African nations, including Tunisia, to effectively manage this issue.

On October 5, Oliver Varhelyi, the EU’s Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Policies, took to social media to address the matter. In a post, Varhelyi emphasized that the implementation of the migration control agreement could only proceed “once Tunisia returns to the spirit of our strategic and comprehensive partnership based on mutual respect.”

Varhelyi shared an August 31 letter from the Tunisian Ministry of Economy, which requested €60 million in budget support in accordance with the terms of an agreement signed in 2021. The EU disbursed the funds on October 3, but relations between the two parties have soured following President Saied’s rejection of the aid package.

Varhelyi clarified that Tunisia has the option to cancel its formal disbursement request and return the €60 million to the EU budget. 

READ: Tunisia: EU policy in action – migrants dumped in the desert


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