Europe in the World

Targeting EU efforts in Tunisia: what approach to the fight against corruption and to decentralisation?

17 July 2017
Francesca Fabbri (Former Policy Analyst at the EPC)



Among the countries of the 2011 Arab revolutions, Tunisia clearly underwent the most robust process of transition to a pluralistic and democratic regime. While consolidating the recent changes is challenging, Tunisia’s ability to successfully confront its problems rests on two important preconditions: eradicating corruption and achieving a sound decentralisation process. Today, lack of transparency and stagnating regional development are deeply intertwined problems that need to be tackled swiftly by the Tunisian government with the support of its international partners. Recent laws and measures, such as the five-year Development Plan, the adoption of an Investment Law, and the reform of the local electoral legal framework, seem to confirm the ambition to reform, but implementation remains very patchy. The EU, with its ambition to make Tunisia an example for enhanced cooperation in the region, should play a greater role in encouraging the Tunisian government to enact much needed reforms through a more critical approach. It can do this by:

  • putting a greater emphasis on strengthening social trust in Tunisian society;
  • make assistance to Tunisian government and civil society more directly dependent on tangible progress on overlooked priority issues;
  • help create the right conditions to encourage investment in the private sector.

This is the time for the EU to show that it can rise to the occasion and sustain a key partner in consolidating its democratic transition, making it an example for progress and stability in the wider region.

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