Tuesday

20th Nov 2018

Security glitch risks delaying EU border mission

  • Tripoli skyline: Eubam Libya's new security detail was due to start on 1 November (Photo: Sebastia Giralt)

The EU has relaunched a tender for security guards for its border mission in Libya, but says the move will not delay the project.

The original plan was to hire 54 bodyguards and drivers at a cost of €6.2 million a year to start work on 1 November.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The border mission, Eubam Libya, is deigned to help the post-war country create a border guard force to stop irregular migrants and smugglers.

Contacts in the private security sector told EUobserver that British firm Aegis was favourite to scoop the contract.

But the EU foreign service in late October abruptly cancelled the procedure.

It told this website on Monday (4 November): "We are re-launching the tender because none of the offers we received was suitable. We are therefore giving them more time and will allow all companies who responded to provide a new offer."

It added: "The tender process is not interfering with the [border mission's] deployment plan. Adequate provisions are currently in place and the tender situation will not lead to a delay in the deployment of mission staff."

It is unclear how long the new tender will take.

But the original one took four months to put together.

Each of the 11 companies which applied - including Aegis, Amarante, Argus, Control Risks, GardaWorld, Geos and G4S - had to submit detailed documents on legal eligibility, costs and staff qualifications based on an 85-page-long EU terms of reference paper.

Competition for EU contracts in Libya has been marked by a dirty tricks campaign by the bidders.

One firm circulated internal emails from the CEO of a competing company indicating that it had bribed Libyan security officials to get permits to operate in the country.

Another firm wrote to Libyan authorities saying that a competitor is in reality a mercenary force which could destabilise the country.

"As the West is not interested in a strong Libya, but only Libya’s oil + money, the only way to secure that is by making sure that no strong government/leadership emerges," it said in a letter seen by this website.

In the meantime, Eubam Libya is being guarded by Argus, a small, Cyprus-based company which also protects EU diplomats in Jordan and Yemen.

Eubam Libya is supposed to double its staff and to set up an operations HQ in Tripoli by the end of the first quarter next year.

But for the time being it is holed up in the Corinthia Hotel in the Libyan capital and is unable to travel outside the city for security reasons.

Even its Corinthia HQ is not free from risk.

When gunmen abducted Libyan PM Ali Zeidan from one wing of the hotel complex on 10 October, they also broke into Argus' operations room in an adjacent tower.

An EU source told this website that five men carrying AK47 rifles confronted a junior member of Argus' staff who was looking after the facility.

A more senior Argus employee, who spoke Arabic, then arrived to barter with the gunmen.

"He explained to them that the EU mission does not constitute a threat and he appealed to their sense of honour. In the end, they took a few bullet-proof vests and helmets, but no weapons, and they left peacefully," the source said.

The contact added that if the new tender does lead to delays, Eubam Libya risks losing credibility in the eyes of Libyan authorities.

"The Libyans were led to believe the mission would have a big impact on their border problems. But instead they've [the Eubam staff] been sitting around since April doing nothing," the contact said.

Libya: hounding of migrants must stop

Sub-Saharan migrants in Libya face appalling treatment. But despite its fine words, the EU's sole concern is to keep them out of Europe.

EU reviews safety of Libya diplomats

The EU's foreign service is considering whether to temporarily close its office in Benghazi after the killing of the US ambassador to Libya.

Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy

EU ministers have agreed to create a new "intelligence school" and to jointly build new drones and attack helicopters, amid French and German calls for a future "EU army".

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  2. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  3. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  4. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  5. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  6. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque
  7. Nature groups disappointed by EU fishing deal
  8. DUP chief says Irish backstop was 'tactic' by EU

Opinion

Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Few people commented on one key point in Macron's statement: he did not justify the idea of a European army by the need to intervene in Africa, which would have been France's traditional approach. Instead, he invoked the Russian threat,

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  2. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  3. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  4. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  5. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  6. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges
  7. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  8. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us