Saturday

25th Nov 2017

EU unveils €200m Libya migrant project

  • The EU will "significantly increase" training and support for the Libyan coast guard (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

The European Commission unveiled a €200 million programme for Libya and north Africa on Wednesday (25 January) to stem irregular migration flows, increase surveillance, and save lives within Libya's territorial waters.

The money will also finance efforts to better monitor land borders between Libya, Chad, and Niger.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Libya, wracked by years of internecine conflict, is the biggest staging point for people leaving Africa for Europe in often lethally dangerous conditions.

Some 4,500 people died last year making the effort.

Broader questions on how much EU states will contribute to the pot and tenuous relations with Libyan authorities in Tripoli may complicate the plan.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told MEPs on Tuesday that "real discussions" with Libyan authorities had proven difficult. He noted some 300,000 people were waiting to attempt the Mediterranean Sea crossing.

The EU's foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, told reporters the following day that that was not the case, however.

"We work with the government and national courts, with prime minister [Fayez] al-Sarraj, we also work with municipalities," she said.

The EU commission is drawing the €200 million to cover expenses for 2017 from its €1.8 billion Trust Fund for Africa.

The plan is to have EU states match the amount, but Mogherini said she was unable to "anticipate expectations" when asked how much EU states were likely to contribute.

She noted that any EU money going into the country would be carefully monitored.

Mogherini will meet al-Sarraj next week to hash out the proposal ahead of an EU summit with heads of state and government in Malta on 3 February. She also met with Martin Kobler, the UN's special envoy to Libya.

Kobler was supposed to fly to Tobruk international airport last week, but his office in Tunisia told this website the flight had been canceled "and postponed due to a procedural delay."

Seahorse

Part of the earmarked funds will also go to increasing Libyan border surveillance in the lead-up to the full launch of the Seahorse Mediterranean Network sometime this Spring.

Seahorse is to connect national coordination centres for border surveillance from Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

It means providing the Libyan coastguard with equipment to connect to member states to better monitor incidents in real time. Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia might also be linked up.

Avramopoulos said that Europol, the EU police agency, and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, also known as Frontex, will play a key role.

"Both agencies will actively contribute to the cracking down, the dismantling of smuggler networks and the organised crime networks hiding behind them," he said.

Mogherini and Avramopoulos also dismissed ideas of replicating the EU-Turkey deal in Libya.

The EU is paying Turkey billions in humanitarian aid and moving toward visa-free access for Turks to Europe in return for Turkey’s help in stopping migrants.

No Turkey-type deal

"The two situations are completely different, the two countries are completely different, the composition of the flow is completely different, and the set of measures are completely different, so there is no comparison that can be done. The two things are completely distinct, one from the other," said Mogherini on Wednesday.

An EU naval operation, Sophia, is patrolling the fringes of Libya's territorial waters and arrested over 100 human smugglers last year.

It cannot get a UN permit to enter Libyan waters, but the EU aims to train and equip the Libyan coastguard to operate there instead.

"The proposal is to increase significantly the training of the Libyan coastguard," said Mogherini.

At the same time, Mogherini is trying to gain greater access to Libya for the United Nations refugee agency and the International Organisation for Migration.

Russia

"That would be for us the only guarantee that international standards would be met, lives are protected, and the management of the flow inside the country are done properly," she said.

In an added complication, Malta earlier this month warned that Libya was at risk of descending into civil war.

A Russian-backed Libyan warlord, Khalifa Haftar, is slowly advancing towards Libya's capital Tripoli, to challenge the authority of the UN and EIU -recognised government, al-Sarraj’s GNA.

Haftar leads the Libyan National Army, a powerful militia, and is being funded by Moscow, which wants to establish a naval base in Libya, the Maltese foreign minister warned.

Malta raises alarm on Russia in Libya

A Russian-backed warlord could start a “civil war” in Libya, increasing refugee flows to Europe, Malta, the new EU presidency, has said.

EU leaders to push migration issue outside of Europe

EU leaders endorsed an Italian deal with Libya to help the North African country stem the flow of people, and pledged €200 million to help its coastguard patrol the seas in an effort to curb migration.

EU monitoring of Libyan coastguard done by Libyans

The EU trains the Libyan coastguard and set up a monitoring mechanism to ensure they respect the human rights of migrants. But the mechanism only requires Libyans to file reports about themselves.

Interview

David Miliband: EU should take over 500,000 refugees

David Miliband heads the US-based International Rescue Committee, an international aid organisation. In an interview with EUobserver, he says the EU should take over 500,000 refugees.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Germany remains 'active' in EU
  2. Work with Israel, Egypt on gas exploration, says Commission
  3. Only seven EU states have 'advanced' stage climate plans
  4. EU dashes integration hopes of eastern countries
  5. EU approves joint Irish electricity scheme
  6. German president to launch 'Grand Coalition' talks
  7. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  8. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaPresident Sargsyan Joined EuFoA Honorary Council Inaugural Meeting
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  6. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  7. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  8. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  9. EPSUStudy Finds TUNED and Employers in Central Governments Most Representative
  10. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  11. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  12. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  2. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  3. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  4. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  5. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  6. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  7. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  8. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  10. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  11. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  12. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education