S&D MEPs Gilles Pargneaux and Brando Benifei visited Tunis on 5-7 January 2016 as part of a seven-member delegation from the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee. The delegation met with Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi, prime minister Habib Essid and president of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People Mohamed Ennaceur. The delegation also held meetings with minister of development, investment and international co-operation Yassine Brahim, minister of defence Farhat Horchani, and several members of the assembly's foreign affairs committee.
S&D MEPs Gilles Pargneaux (FR) and Brando Benifei (IT) stated:
"For the Socialist and Democrat Group in the European Parliament, Tunisia is a priority. It is crucial that the democratic transition in Tunisia is consolidated and supported politically and economically. The terrorist attacks have had a devastating effect on the economy and unemployment, especially among young people, remains high. The critical nature of the problems affecting Tunisia demands more and better support to contribute to capacity building for the Tunisian institutions, border control assistance, justice sector and security reforms.
"During our meetings we emphasised that the European Union is willing to play its part but that government commitments must be upheld. In this context, organising local elections and finalising some fundamental laws such as the freedom of information law have been stressed as priorities for 2016 by several political players. Members also stressed that the five-year development plan has to ensure a reinforced partnership between the EU and Tunisia that will boost employment, green growth and renewable energies. Regarding the EU-Tunisia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), the inclusion of a strong parliamentary dimension and the effective involvement of civil society and trade unions in the negotiation process are crucial to ensure the legitimacy of the agreement."