Brussels -- The European Commission is delivering today on the commitment to support Tunisia's Government and its citizens, to deepen the relationship between the EU and Tunisia and to protect Tunisia's economy following the recent terrorist attacks.
In this context the Commission has today adopted a legislative proposal offering additional temporary access for Tunisian olive oil to the EU market to help support Tunisia's recovery in the difficult period being faced by the country.
The European Commission proposes to offer until end of 2017 a unilateral annual duty free tariff rate quota of 35 000 tonnes for Tunisia's exports of olive oil to the EU, in addition to the existing 56 700 tonnes under the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement.
Commenting on this proposal, the High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini said:
'Exceptional times call for exceptional measures. Today's proposal is a strong signal of EU solidarity with Tunisia, and follows up on my commitment to Prime Minister Essid and Foreign Minister Baccouche last July. Tunisia can count on the EU 's support in such a difficult time.'
Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, and Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, added:
'This initiative is a result of the EU commitment to help the Tunisian economy following the recent terrible events. It's a concrete effort targeted at one of the most important economic sectors of the country. It aims to create more jobs to the benefit of the Tunisian people.'
The measure has been designed taking into account its impact in the European olive oil sector.
Tunisia's economy, and in particular its tourism sector, has been severely hit by the terrorist attacks. With this proposal, the EU is delivering on its promise to further assist Tunisia with concrete short-term actions.
The proposal will now be forwarded to the Council and the European Parliament for scrutiny and formal adoption before its entry into force.
The quota proposed today by the Commission will be made available for a period of two years, from 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2017 and it will be opened once the existing duty free tariff rate quota of 56 700 tonnes, enshrined in the Agreement, is exhausted.
Olive oil is Tunisia’s main agricultural export to the EU, and the olive oil industry is an important part of the country’s economy, providing direct and indirect employment to more than one million people and representing one-fifth of the country’s total agricultural employment. Thanks to today's initiative, Tunisian exports of olive oil to the EU will be increased, bringing a highly needed short term economic benefit to Tunisia.
Trade relations between the European Union and Tunisia are governed by the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, signed in 1995, which provides for an annual duty free quota of 56 700 tonnes. The Agreement laid the foundation for the establishment of a Free Trade Area, including a progressive liberalization on agriculture. Tunisia and the EU will start, in October 2015, negotiations for establishing a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) that will notably provide for further reciprocal liberalisation of trade in agriculture.