These policy instruments have formally attempted to integrate the three policy areas of legal migration, irregular migration and mobility into a comprehensive strategy (at least on paper) and to also include in the picture the migration and development nexus (in particular since the adoption of the GAM in 2005) and the issue of international protection (since the launch of the GAMM in 2011). However, the focus has always been (both on EU policy documents and on concrete cooperation initiatives) on the management of irregular migration, i.e. on cooperation policy on border control, the fight against trafficking in human beings and smuggling, return and readmission. European Commission (2016b). EU and Tunisia start negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission [press release]. Retrieved from DRC (Danish Refugee Council). (2014). Results of the Danish Refugee Council on mixed migration in Tunisia.

Retrieved November 23, 2017. Since 2011, but especially since tunisia`s 2014 legislative elections, migration has been regularly on the agenda of high-level meetings with the Tunisian authorities and civil society. Bilateral commitments under the MP include the opening of negotiations for a visa facilitation agreement and a readmission agreement. These negotiations with Tunisia were due to start on 12 October 2016. But they didn`t. Secondly, Tunisia currently has stronger relations with the rest of the African continent. Within it, the return of migrants is an unpopular issue on which cooperation is not self-evident. Even with the support of the European Union, if a “migration agreement” is reached, Tunisia would have to strike a balance between the forced repatriation of sub-Saharan African nationals and the strengthening of bilateral relations with countries of origin. Similar considerations were made in previous readmission negotiations between Tunisia and European countries. When the Italian Government signed a readmission agreement, including third-country nationals, citizens of the Arab Maghreb Union were excluded.

This can be interpreted as full respect for the main principles of Tunisian foreign policy, which involve pragmatism and non-interference. In the first months of 2017, the issue of cooperation on migration control and readmission with Tunisia was again at the top of the European agenda and in the interest of Member States. In reaffirming the European Framework for Cooperation on Migration, the European Commission, in its “Renewed Action Plan on Return”, identified Tunisia as one of the priority countries for the conclusion of a EURA (European Commission, 2017). In addition, during the same period, the German and Italian Governments put pressure on the Tunisian authorities with a view to the readmission of third-country nationals, which also suggests the possibility of replicating the mechanism set up in the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016.