EU approves 500 million euro loan to Tunisia

09 de junho de 2016

Tunis – The European Parliament approved this Wednesday (8) a EUR 500 million (USD 566.3 million) financial aid to Tunisia. It is a soft loan designed to help the country reduce its external debt and consolidate its democratic mechanisms. The proposal had 561 votes in favor, 76 against and 42 abstentions.

According to a statement released by the European Union Parliament, the proposal’s sponsor, Marielle de Sarnez, declared that the “transition in Tunisia remains notable”. “Europe really needs to stand by it (the country) and I ask to the [European] Commission to make this loan available as soon as possible, before summer [in the Northern Hemisphere]”, she said.

She added that the financial support is not a subsidy, but a loan that Tunisia will need to pay back, even if the country’s debt continues to increase. The MPE suggested for the European Commission to study the possibility of launching a similar policy to the one adopted by France and Germany, which decided to convert part of Tunisia’s debt into investments in the Arab nation.

“To have access to the money, Tunisia needs to sign a protocol of understanding with the European Union committing to structural reforms and sound management of public finance”, said the statement.

The document also says that Tunisia should “guarantee efficient democratic mechanisms, primacy of the law and the respect for human rights”, which will be monitored by the European Union. The loan will carry a two-and-half-year term.

Add to this amount a USD 2.9 billion financial support offered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The European Parliament emphasizes that “Tunisia’s economy is in serious trouble since the 2011 revolution”. “In 2015, the country suffered terrorist attacks that impacted tourism and exacerbated its weak fiscal balance and balance of payments”, says the statement. “The unemployment rate among women is 20%; among young people with a university degree is 28.6%, with the average rate at 15%”, it concludes.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani