Tunisia deal rewards regime’s rights violations

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) strongly condemn the EU’s memorandum of understanding as overlooking an alarming level of human rights violations, including against migrants and trade unionists. 

The €1 billion agreement comes at a time when the Tunisia government is routinely violating human and workers’ rights, including a campaign of harassment against trade unions and racist treatment of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. 

The ETUC’s General Secretary, Esther Lynch, was herself expelled from Tunisia by order of President Kais Saied in February after taking part in a peaceful demonstration for trade union rights.

Despite that, the memorandum does not include any conditions on the financial aid that would help to enforce human, workers’ or trade union rights in the country. 

The European Commission did not even respond to a letter sent by the ETUC last month about the need for such conditions and the exact financial commitments made are still unknown. 

ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch said: 

“Europe should aspire to have an ethical foreign policy, but the deal with Tunisia is a good example of an ethics-free foreign policy. 

“The EU could have used this deal as an opportunity to enforce respect for human, migrants’ and workers’ rights in Tunisia. 

“Instead they’ve handed a public relations coup to an autocratic regime, turned a blind eye to its assault on trade unions and allowed it to scale-up the mistreatment of migrants using European money. 

“Europe should regularise migration by creating more legal routes and stop throwing our money at militarised borders.

“EU leaders could learn a thing about negotiations from Tunisian trade unions who continue to work for a better deal on behalf of ordinary people despite the campaign of intimidation being waged against them by Saied’s regime.”


ETUC letter to President Ursula von der Leyen concerning the European Union and Tunisia partnership package