Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Question marks over EU contract for Libya security firm

  • EEAS chief Catherine Ashton with bodyguards in Benghazi last year (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The European External Action Service (EEAS) has awarded a juicy contract to British security firm G4S in Libya despite the fact it has no permission to work there.

The €10 million contract covers bodyguards and building security for the EU's Tripoli and Benghazi delegations for the next four years starting 1 June. EEAS officials also signed an end-user agreement for the company to import assault rifles and 9mm pistols.

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

It took the steps despite the fact G4S has no permission from the National Transitional Council (NTC), the internationally recognised post-war authority in Libya, to operate on its territory.

EEAS spokesman Michael Mann and G4S spokesman Adam Mynott confirmed the company has no NTC authorisation. They told EUobserver that permission is not needed because there is no relevant law in Libya until a new government makes one after upcoming elections.

"From the information we gathered in Libya, mainly through our delegation, there is no condition to get a 'non-objection' before granting a contract to a company. There is no law in Libya which regulates the operation of foreign security service companies," Mann said.

The line clashes with a statement by the NTC's ambassador to the EU, however.

Mohamed Farhat told this website on 2 May that the EEAS asked him in April to arrange a G4S permit. He noted that authorities in Tripoli are examining the request but have not made up their mind yet.

"The Libyan government is the one who says Yes or No if there is to be any security company to provide security services ... We are a sovereign state and we say Yes or No," Farhat said.

The EEAS-G4S line also clashes with the EU's own tender documents.

The invitation to tender sent out on 13 January states: "The winning tenderer must provide before signature of the specific contract the evidence that either he or his local partner is duly registered and has a licence to operate as a security provider in Libya."

Two other firms which put in a bid, Canada's GardaWorld and the Hungarian-based Argus, do have Libyan or "local" partner companies and related NTC permits.

The head of GardaWorld's Brussels office, Didier Ranchon, said: "We are very surprised and very disappointed ... if Argus had won the bid we would not have anything [negative] to say."

Ranchon noted that apart from the permit question, GardaWorld and Argus were better candidates because they already operate in Libya. GardaWorld works for the British foreign office in Tripoli, as well as oil firms Repsol and Total and engineering giant Siemens. Argus currently does EEAS security in Libya.

In a further irregularity, the EEAS contract was originally to start on 1 April. But officials gave G4S leeway to start on 1 June because it is not ready.

Its suitability is under a question mark for political reasons as well.

G4S works for the Israeli government, providing what it calls "security systems maintenance" for the SJ District police station and for the Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank.

The Ofer prison is currently in the headlines because of a mass hunger strike by Palestinian detainees who are being held without trial, making G4S into a potential target for Arab hostility in the region. In a sign of historic sensitivities on the issue, an extant Libyan law from 1957 forbids foreign firms who operate in Israel from doing business in Libya.

The EEAS denied giving G4S preferential treatment. "The contract was awarded to the company that performed best in a competitive tender procedure, fully in line with the requirements of the financial regulation [EU tender rules]," Mann said.

On the Israeli question, G4S' Mynott said: "That doesn't particularly concern us."

Libya slowly coming back to normality, says EU official

Shops are opening on the streets of Tripoli and more women and children are to be seen, EU envoy Agostino Miozzo said Tuesday upon his return from Libya. Weapons proliferation and an array of international aid efforts will be the biggest challenges ahead, however.

Investigation

EU bins security contract, annoys Libya

The EU foreign service has cancelled a €10 million contract with British security firm G4S in a minor diplomatic dispute with Libya.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

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. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us