Sunday

23rd Jul 2017

Italy and Libya cut migrant busting deal

Italy and the UN-backed government in Libya on Thursday (2 February) signed a deal to curb migration, ahead of the EU summit in Malta.

The plan is part of a broader EU effort to seal off the migratory flows from Libya before the upcoming summer months when the sea journeys towards Europe are expected to spike.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

  • UNHCR and IOM says insecurity in Libya makes providing basic services difficult (Photo: BRC)

Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni signed the deal with Libya's prime minister Fayez al-Serraj in Rome.

"It confirms that cooperation that has been taking place for months via the Italian government's commitment on many fronts," said Gentiloni.

Serraj, quoted in Deutsche Welle, said the deal included "humanitarian repatriation" of migrants.

Italian news agency Ansa said it also included measures to combat human trafficking, contraband, and border reinforcement.

Brussels, Roma, Malta

The Libyan leader had also met with EU council president Donald Tusk and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini earlier in the day in Brussels.

At a joint press conference with Mogherini, Serraj said they had discussed at length "a series of potential solutions" on how to deal with thousands of people hoping to make the perilous sea journey to Europe.

Almost 1,200 people are reported to have perished from Libya to Italy from November 2016 to end of January 2017.

Serraj said Libya "is committed to enhance our cooperation with the European Union in order to stop the illegal migration phenomenon and protect those who venture into lethal action on the seas."

He also noted that any effort would have to respect and preserve Libyan sovereignty in what he described as "non-negotiable".

The EU's naval operation Sophia, to crack down on people smugglers, is barred from entering Libyan territorial waters.

But Serraj appeared to be open to allowing the ships in following comments made earlier this week at Nato.

"If there is something to be carried out jointly between the Libyan navy and any other party interested in extending a hand to the Libyan navy, that would be possible,” he said.

Insecurity in Libya

The flurry of meetings is leading up to the EU summit in Malta on Friday, where heads of state and government are expected to thrash out the migration curbing plans following a €200 million pledge to the north African states.

Part of the plan includes granting the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) greater access to Libya.

But both organisations, in a joint statement, said widespread insecurity inside the war-torn country made it difficult to provide even basic services to people in need.

"We believe that, given the current context, it is not appropriate to consider Libya a safe third country nor to establish extraterritorial processing of asylum-seekers in North Africa," they said.

EU leaders to discuss migration, in Trump's shadow

New US president Trump overshadows the Malta summit of EU leaders on Friday, as they discuss the bloc's future amid new geopolitical realities, and step up efforts to stop migration via Libya from North African countries.

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.

Austria readies for migrant border surge

Foreign ministers in Brussels agreed to toughen up measures against Libyan migrant smugglers amid Austrian claims it is ready to "protect" its borders from any sudden mass migrant movements from Italy.

EU backs Italy on NGO rescues

The European Commission has said that the EU and Italy merely want to “better organise” migrant rescues in the Central Mediterranean.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary