Written by Clare Ferguson,
The EU is committed to supporting democracy in Tunisia and helping the country to counter the political, security and economic issues it currently faces. With solidarity in mind, negotiations began last October on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. The agreement will extend the current cooperation with Tunisia, which was the first country in the Mediterranean to sign a trade agreement with the EU. Tunisia’s trade with the EU amounted to around €20 billion in 2014, access to European markets are therefore key to Tunisia’s economic recovery. In a further, exceptional and emergency measure, the EU is offering Tunisia an additional annual duty-free quota for Tunisian olive oil exports to the EU, of 35 000 tonnes for two years. Parliament will debate the Committee on International Trade’s report in Plenary on Wednesday evening, with a vote following on Thursday.
Turning to stability and economic recovery nearer to home, Parliament will debate own-initiative reports by several committees which focus on new euro area economic and fiscal policy recommendations on Wednesday. The proposals aim to align the overall EU and euro area policies with those of individual Member States. Using employment and social indicators, the measures focus on supporting economic recovery. The reports are tabled as part of the ‘revamping’ of the European Semester process. The European Semester cycle detects and monitors problematic economic trends in order to take timely steps to prevent and correct economic instability. With a more specific focus on the euro area, Parliament’s committees recommend creating a more effective European Semester, with greater democratic accountability. The reports call for more investment in people, socially responsible structural reform, and action to boost sustainable growth and investment. They also underline the importance of the Single Market in delivering jobs and growth.
Employment is also the subject of a proposal to update and improve the EURES network which comes before the Parliament on Wednesday. EURES assists EU nationals who wish to take advantage of guaranteed free movement to find a job in other EU countries. Despite the headlines in some Member States, only 3.1% of the active population have so far taken up this opportunity. Members will vote on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs report, agreed after negotiations in the Council between all Member States. The Committee proposes measures to end discrimination against workers based on their nationality, and to strengthen the advice provided by the EURES network.