17th Apr 2021

EU readying arms embargo on Libya

  • Even Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini has now called for Colonel Gaddafi to step down (Photo: European Commission)

Even Italy, Libya's longtime close ally has called for the country's isolated leader, Colonel Moammar Gaddafi to go. The message came as the European Union readied sanctions including an arms embargo to be placed on the regime.

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini on Sunday told domestic TV channel Sky Tg24 that Mr Gaddafi should step down, according to a report from Deutsche Presse Agentur. The comments came after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi admitted that the colonel had lost control of Libya.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Also on Sunday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that the bloc is to impose sanctions "as a matter of urgency", following a unanimous resolution by the United Nations Security Council calling for the adoption of tough measures.

"The EU fully endorses this resolution and will implement the restrictive measures as a matter of urgency. The EU had already started to work on restrictive measures," she said. "Preparations are already well underway,"

On Friday evening, it emerged that the bloc had agreed a package of sanctions against Libya, including an embargo on arms sales to the country.

Diplomats from the 27 member states reached agreement on Friday afternoon after days of Italian resistance supported by other countries on the frontline of what Rome has said will be a "biblical exodus" of immigrants across the Mediterranean.

Beyond arms restrictions, the package also blocks sales of any law enforcement equipment that could be used for internal repression.

Following a similar move on Thursday by Switzerland, the EU intends to freeze the continental assets of Gaddafi and his associates and ban all travel to Europe.

The sanctions on the country will not however include any restrictions on sales of oil to Europe, which were described as "unrealistic" by a source close to the discussions.

EU ministers must however still give the formal nod to what was agreed by diplomats and the European Commission must also propose a regulation detailing the restrictive measures.

Until Friday, officials have said that such a move would take as long as a month and a half, but now they are hoping that EU member states will be able to give their assent on Monday, with the measures in force by Thursday.

The bloc's defence ministers and Nato's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, also met on Friday in Godollo, Hungary, where Libya dominated discussions. Conflicting reports emerged from the meeting regarding the nature of discussions, however.

The Nato chief said that military intervention did not come up.

"As regards the no-fly zone, it has not been discussed yet. I would, however, say that such a far-reaching approach would require a very clear international legitimacy and in particular a United Nations mandate."  

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, also in Hungary for the defence ministers' meeting, ruled out any immediate armed undertaking: "I don't think at this point there is any discussion on any sort of military action around Libya."

However, according to an AFP report, the Hungarian defence minister, said of a no-fly zone on Friday: "This is one of the options."

Earlier in the week, the US mentioned the possibility of such a course of action, naming Italy and France as possible Nato members that were best placed geographically to carry out its imposition.

Ms Ashton is also continuing to call for a "Libya-led dialogue" as a resolution to the situation in the country.

"Everything that we do, our objectives remain the same, which is to see a feasible dialogue, to move forward, for people to be able to get to the democracies they clearly want," she said.

In a separate statement, she said: "Human rights is a silver thread throughout all we do in the European External Action Service and is at the core of our response to the situations developing in Libya and beyond in the region."

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines


Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.


Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us