Tunisia’s Kais Saied meets EU economy commissioner after brief cancellation

The European commissioner had been scheduled to conclude his visit with a discussion with the Tunisian President

Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar, right, with European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni in Tunis on Monday. AFP
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Tunisia’s President Kais Saied held a meeting with the EU’s economic affairs commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni, who arrived in Tunis on Monday on an official visit, after initially cancelling it.

"The meeting took place in the end," a member of Mr Gentiloni's cabinet and communication adviser told The National.

Earlier on Monday, the EU’s delegation in Tunis confirmed the cancellation of the meeting between the EU official and the Tunisian President to Italian news agency Nova.

No explanation for the initial cancellation and later rescheduling have been provided yet.

Mr Gentiloni has already met the Foreign Minister, Nabil Ammar, while talks with the Economics Minister Samir Said and the central bank chief, Marouane Abassi should be under way.

The visit was expected conclude on Monday after a meeting with Finance Minister Sihem Boughdiri Nemsia and talks with Prime Minister Najla Bouden at Kasbah Palace.

The EU’s visit to discuss economic reforms and potential new financial assistance for Tunisia, which the European Commission said it could consider if “specific preconditions are met”.

“The commissioner will discuss the socio-economic reforms envisaged by the government in the context of a difficult economic situation with Tunisian officials,” the European Commission’s press service told journalists last Friday.

Mr Gentiloni’s visit comes after a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday in Brussels, where EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell said “the situation in Tunisia is very, very dangerous” and warned of repercussions in Europe.

Tunisia continues to face a worsening economic situation and urgently needs to enact a package of reforms to secure a deal with the International Monetary Fund.

The North African country had sought $4 billion in funding from the IMF and reached a staff-level agreement with the fund in October for a new 48-month Extended Fund Facility, worth about $1.9 billion, to support the government’s economic reform programme.

However, it has yet to secure funding from the international lender pending implementation of the actions required.

Updated: March 27, 2023, 5:29 PM