European Parliament not happy with the Tunisia deal, but is practically sidelined 21:51 Abroad The agreements have still not been worked out and the number of migrants coming to the EU via Tunisia has not decreased, but increased enormously.

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Migrants who left Tunisia for Italy last month
NOS News
  • Nisrine Sahla

    Editor Brussels

  • Nisrine Sahla

    Editor Brussels

Today there was criticism of the Tunisia deal from all sides in the European Parliament. Parliament considered for the first time the agreement that the European Union concluded with Tunisia in July. Some MEPs are angry about the deal itself, others believe its implementation is not happening fast enough. A large majority believes that they were not included in the conclusion of this deal in any case.

In July, outgoing Prime Minister Rutte, his Italian colleague Meloni, European Commission President Von der Leyen and Tunisian President Saied agreed that the European Union would provide money to support the Tunisian economy. In return, Tunisia would stop people who want to reach the EU via the Mediterranean.

But the agreements have still not been worked out after two months. The number of migrants coming to the EU via Tunisia has not decreased, but has increased enormously.

Cynical migration policy

Malik Azmani, who sits in the European Parliament on behalf of the VVD, supports the initiative. “But unfortunately we are not seeing results yet. The deal between the EU and Tunisia appears to be stuck in the implementation phase and few details are being shared.”

The criticism does not only come from Dutch parties, the frustration is widely shared. “The migration deal is a threat to Europe and its security,” said Swedish MEP Sara Skyttedal of the Christian Democrats. According to her, European borders must be better protected and the EU must strengthen cooperation with countries such as Tunisia. “This is a cynical migration policy,” she said.


A photo of a dead mother and her daughter in the desert was cited several times by several MEPs. The photo appeared on social media at the end of July and caused quite a stir. The mother and daughter in the photo had been sent back into the desert by Tunisia, where they died of dehydration.

The photo that was widely shared on social media

According to Sophie in ‘t Veld (formerly D66, now an independent MEP), the situation in the photo is the result of this deal. “Paid for by European money. This deal does not meet our European standards, it is treason.” Social Democratic Italian MEP Pietro Bartolo also used the photo to criticize the agreement. “Tunisia is sending its own people into the desert,” Bartolo denounced.

Left out

“We were not included in the decision,” says Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans, who sits in parliament on behalf of the Flemish Liberals. “After two months, we still don’t have all the details of the agreement and in the meantime human rights are being undermined and violence against migrants is being fueled. This is not my Europe.”

GroenLinks MEP Tineke Strik is also not happy with the agreements that the EU has made with Tunisia. “Migrants and refugees are being chased, abused and murdered in Tunisia. The deal has only led to more repression, more deaths and more migration.”

The European Parliament will ultimately vote on the Tunisia deal, but it is unclear whether that will make much difference. Outgoing Prime Minister Rutte, his Italian colleague Meloni, President of the European Commission Von der Leyen were in Tunisia this summer as ‘Team Europe’, a title without legal status. According to the European Commission (the executive body of the EU), the deal is a political agreement and not legislation. That is why the European Parliament cannot do much about it if it wants to.

  • Rutte had expected more from the Tunisia deal, ‘the numbers are still high’
  • Tunisia deal mainly based on wishful thinking, say insiders
  • Migration deal leaves Tunisian smugglers cold: ‘This won’t change anything’
  • Abroad

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