A strategic cooperation agreement to help combat human traffickers was signed on Sunday by the president of Tunisia and the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Tunisia has become in recent months a point of departure for thousands of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

The agreement was announced by the Tunisian presidency and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

The memorandum of cooperation signed between Tunisia, the EU, Italy and the Netherlands contains “agreements to disrupt the business model of human traffickers, strengthen border controls and improve registration and return” of migrants. “All the necessary measures to strengthen the efforts to stop the irregular migrationDutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in her statements from Tunis, after the signing of the EU-Tunisia memorandum of understanding, underlined that “the cooperation relationship with Tunisia is an example for new relations of cooperation with the neighbors of northern Africa”.

“The memorandum signed today is an important result, thanks to a substantial diplomatic effort,” added the Italian Prime Minister. He announced that next Sunday, the 23rd of the month, an international conference on migration and development will be organized in Rome.

“Tunisian President Sayed will be one of the protagonists of the conference. Many heads of state and government of European countries are also going to participate. It will be an important step towards Mediterranean cooperation, with an integrated approach”, stressed Georgia Meloni.

“We should continue to work intensively with Tunisia, in the framework of the implementation of the memorandum of understanding. This is a result which, until a few months ago, seemed impossible”, concluded the head of the Italian government.

The agreement covers five pillars: macroeconomic stability, trade and investment, green energy transition, people-to-people contacts and migration. It will be implemented through the various forms of cooperation between the European Union and Tunisia, following the relevant regulations and applicable procedures.

Enhanced political dialogue within the EU-Tunisia Association Council before the end of the year will provide an important opportunity to revitalize political and institutional ties, with the aim of jointly addressing common international challenges and maintaining the rules-based order .

The president of the European Commission welcomed the agreement, which she said “invests in the common prosperity” of the two countries.