Thursday

19th Sep 2019

Libya commanders in Brussels for migration talks

  • Over 1,000 people have died this year on the central Mediterranean route to Italy (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

Two commanders from Libya were in Brussels on Tuesday (25 April) to discuss migration with the European Commission as part of a broader effort to stop people from fleeing into Europe.

A senior EU commission official told MEPs on Monday that a "huge meeting" had been organised on their behalf by the EU's foreign policy branch, the European External Action Service.

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

"We are dealing with two coastguards. One reporting to the ministry of interior, the other one to the ministry of defence. We try to engage with both," said Maciej Popowski, a commission deputy-director.

Popowski said discussions would revolve around the needs of the commanders and what the EU could offer in return. It would also "make sure that the assistance we offer is used in an appropriate way, so that these funds are well spent."

Asked for details on the meeting, an EU commission spokesperson told EUobserver that it was about providing the Libyan Coast Guard with support as part of a plan with the EU's naval operation Sofia.

Sofia's primary goal is to crack down on migrant smugglers and "disrupt" their business model.

The EU also wants to help dismantle the networks by beefing up Libyan border surveillance with the help of seven member states through the so-called Seahorse Mediterranean Network.

That includes giving the Libyan navy access to the EU nabla data, and possibly, by extension, giving access to the country's ministries of defence and interior.

Both ministries are plagued with problems.

The EU's own mission to Libya said in a confidential report leaked to a British NGO that the interior ministry was infiltrated "by militias and religiously motivated stakeholders" and that its defence ministry had "little or no control of the armed forces".

Despite the issues, the EU still decided to set aside some €90 million in April to help fund migrant projects inside the war-torn country.

Around half of that money will go to somehow improving the lives of people detained in centres, which are often run by armed militia groups.

That also includes detection and analysis of data on mixed migration flows, routes and trends through a so-called Displacement Tracking Mechanism.

Migrants are big business

But not everyone is convinced of the EU schemes.

"Migrants are big business in Libya, pumping more money into that system is actually going to make it worse," Doctors Without Borders' (MSF's) Libya programme manager, Annemarie Loof, told MEPs.

The NGO has access to a handful of detention facilities in Tripoli and one in Misrata.

Loof described the conditions as deplorable with some people having to toss their urine onto the walls for it to evaporate given the lack of toilets.

"They are sold, you can sponsor a migrant if you wish, which means you pay a certain sum of money and take somebody home," she said.

The EU is training the Libyan coast guard to rescue people at sea. They are then sent to a detention centre to languish.

MSF warns that returning more people to already overcrowded detention centres will only aggravate the abuse and exploitation.

Italy recently gave the Libyan coast guard the first two of 10 rescue boats.

The whole is made worse given the lack of any real influence and control over the country by the internationally recognised National Government of Accord (GNA).

One EU official also noted to the MEPs on Monday that Libya's oil-based economy was on the verge of total collapse given the drop in prices and exports.

"This is going very bad," he said.

EU leaders discuss Libya migrant plans

A letter by Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, which will be discussed at the EU summit, provides an overview of plans to keep migrants in Libya.

News in Brief

  1. EU adds €100m to research and Erasmus budgets
  2. Ambassador: UK Poles should 'seriously considering' leaving
  3. Trump's UK ambassador stirs up anti-EU feeling
  4. Brexit chaos is lesson to other EU states, ECB governor says
  5. EU condemns Israel's latest land grab
  6. Scotland to keep some laws aligned with EU after Brexit
  7. Spain to hold fresh election in November
  8. Turkey ups pressure on visa-free entry into EU

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. A new Commission for the one percent
  2. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'
  3. Germany adopts blockchain strategy and says no to Libra
  4. Revanchist Russia continues to rewrite European history
  5. How EU trains discriminate against the disabled
  6. These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission
  7. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs
  8. Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us