A second EU delegation has been denied entry into Tunisia, this time from the European Commission, the Tunisian Presidency announced in a press release on Tuesday.
The scheduled trip was arranged to discuss the implementation of the controversial EU-Tunisia migration deal, just days after the EU released a first sum of €127 million to Tunisia as part of the agreement.
"The President of the Republic decided during the meeting of the National Security Council… to inform the European side of the decision to postpone the visit that a delegation from the European Commission intended to pay to our country to a later date to be agreed upon between the two parties," the statement read.
This is the second EU mission to Tunisia that has been blocked in less than a month, after a delegation of MEPs was denied entry for a fact-finding mission on 14 September after they expressed concerns for the democratic backsliding in the country under Saied.
On Friday, the European Commission announced the first payment under the Memorium of Understanding (MoU) to Tunisia, which amounts €127 million. The Commission says that it is "accelerating the delivery of ongoing programmes that will help address the urgent situation in Lampedusa, in line with the 10-point plan for Lampedusa."
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen flew into the Sicilian island last week after a state of emergency was declared due to 10,000 migrants reaching Lampedusa in the space of three days.
Urged into action, von der Leyen announced a ten-point action plan to help alleviate the high number of migrant arrivals at the EU’s southern border. The visit and the plan were largely criticised as having been a rehash of previous policies.
As part of the deal, the EU and Tunisia say they want to crack down on smuggling networks, enforce EU-assisted training of Tunisian law enforcement authorities, and help Tunisia with voluntary returns and reintegration of migrants to countries of origin, in full respect of international law, the Commission claims.
Last week, the EU's partnership with Tunisia was once again called into question, after the Tunisian President made antisemitic remarks about Storm Daniel, which devastated neighbouring Libya.