In view of the increasing numbers of Mediterranean migrants, the EU Commission, together with Tunisia, wants to take tougher action against people smugglers and illegal crossings.
Brussels wants to make a good 100 million euros available to the North African country this year for border management, search and rescue operations, measures against smugglers and the repatriation of migrants, announced Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Tunis after talks with President Kais Saied.
Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also attended the meeting. Meloni in particular has long been pushing for an agreement with Tunisia to stop the migrant boats that are leaving there early on on their way to southern Italy and thus to the European Union. The ultra-right politician spoke of an "important first step".
According to the Commission, the migration aid package of 105 million euros this year is almost three times as large as Brussels' annual support for Tunis last time. Von der Leyen added that respect for human rights is important in a comprehensive approach to migration.
Aid organizations and observers have criticized the conditions and conditions faced by migrants in Tunisia. They underline that Tunisia under Saied is not a safe place to which refugees may be returned or detained.