At the end of his official two-day visit to Tunisia, Georges Dassis, EESC president, signed an agreement consolidating the links between European and Tunisian civil society with Quartet representatives Mr Noureddine Taboubi, UGTT deputy secretary-general, Mr Slim Ghorbel, UTICA vice-president, LTDH vice-president Mr Ahmed Galai and ONAT head Mr Mohamed Fadhel Mahfoud.
"I welcome this agreement which opens the way to support for the full involvement of Tunisian civil society in shaping the country’s policies and in pressing ahead with economic and social issues", said Georges Dassis.
The signature of the agreement sends a positive signal to leaders on both sides of the Mediterranean. It confirms the key role of civil society in Tunisia's participatory democracy and in the country's relations with Europe, including the joint monitoring of the DCTFA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement), on which negotiations open next week.
During his visit, Mr Dassis also met the ministers responsible for relations with civil society, vocational training issues and social affairs. He welcomed the importance attached to freedom of expression, democracy and the role of civil society.
Since 2011, when the former Tunisian Economic and Social Council was dissolved, and as part of the 1995 Barcelona Process, the EESC has worked closely with the Quartet bodies to strengthen the role of civil society in the governance and management of the country. Representatives of the Quartet attended the EESC plenary session on 21 January 2016 and confirmed that they would take part in the upcoming Euro-Mediterranean summit of economic and social councils in October 2016.