Monday

21st May 2018

EU leaders discuss Libya migrant plans

  • Libya's detention centres have been described as death traps (Photo: © UNICEF/Romenzi)

The EU is pressing ahead to provide a Libyan land border authority, said to be "in complete disarray", with vehicles, surveillance, intelligence and other technologies, according to a document seen by EUobserver.

In a letter ahead of Thursday's EU summit in Brussels, Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the EU presidency, said that the EU is ready to "do its utmost" to stabilise Libya in a broader effort to stop people from exiting the war-torn country towards Europe.

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.

Muscat outlines the plans and money needed to help people stuck in Libya and prevent others from entering or leaving the country.

The letter, addressed to European Council president Donald Tusk, provides an overview of EU-led efforts in Libya, following a declaration signed five weeks ago among heads of state at a summit in Malta and will be presented to other EU leaders when they discuss migration at the summit.

It says the European Commission has earmarked €20 million to help improve conditions in detention centres, which are mostly run by armed militia groups.

Part of that money will also go towards sending around 5,000 people home in assisted voluntary return schemes, organised by the Geneva-based International Organisation of Migration (IOM).

One senior EU diplomat told reporters in early March that migration was just a side-issue to the real problems facing the country.

"Libya is totally out of control," he said, noting that the ties among local communities and tribes were shattered in the wake of Muammar Gaddafi's downfall as leader in 2011.

But EU leaders in Brussels, at a summit on Thursday, intend to endorse all efforts in resolving the migratory challenges faced in Libya, according to draft conclusions seen by EUobserver.

Among the biggest problems is trying to control a southern Libyan border that spans across vast tracks of lawless desert.

1,500 militias

The aim is to crack down on migrant smuggling in a country where some 1,500 armed militia groups operate with near total impunity.

The task is further complicated by inter-tribal disputes and a UN-backed government of national accord in Tripoli that has little to no control over most the country.

The difficulties were highlighted by the EU's border and surveillance mission in Libya, EUBAM, which in an internal report from February, said Libya's ministry of the interior is being infiltrated "by militias and religiously motivated stakeholders."

It had also described Libyan border security and management as being "in complete disarray at present".

The Muscat letter says EUBAM will support the ministry to tackle organised crime and human smuggling.

It also offloads big tasks against smugglers in Libya to EU agencies like Europol, the European Border and Coast Guard, European Maritime Safety Agency, European Fisheries Control, and the European Satellite centre.

One idea includes disrupting supplies to smugglers by somehow liaising with "manufacturers, suppliers, retails of dinghies and engines, etc".

Another proposal involves "information sharing between military and law enforcement capacities deployed in the region."

Local opposition

Despite the plans, big questions remain on how exactly they will be carried out and whether the Libyan factions in control are willing to work with the EU.

Local authorities from Tripoli and Zintan, a city in the north-west of country, told EUobserver in February that they opposed the EU plans to keep migrants inside the country.

"It is not acceptable and it is not logical that we should solve the problem of Europe by keeping the migrants and refugees in Libya," said Mostafa Al-Barooni, Zintan's mayor.

The EU is carrying out missions in order to train the Libyan Coast Guard to return people caught within the territorial waters back to the country. In February, a first group graduated in Malta's capital city Valletta.

A second training mission has since begun in Crete, with Malta planning to host another two training modules between March and April.

Italy and Libya cut migrant busting deal

Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni and his Libyan counterpart Fayez al-Serraj signed a deal in Rome to curb migration flows and crack down on people smuggling ahead of an EU summit in Malta.

EU unveils €200m Libya migrant project

The EU commission has earmarked €200 million to enhance surveillance and better train the Libyan coastguard to stop migrants coming to Europe.

Opinion

Big changes in EU migration governance

Despite public debate sometimes being on the wrong side of the fence, there have been a number of developments in tackling asylum and migration in Europe.

Opinion

Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny

Most refugee-related services are outsourced to the private sector and NGOs, which are not adequately monitored and evaluated. When governments and EU institutions provide funding for refugee projects, they should scrutinise the NGOs and private players they work with.

Opinion

Calling time on European-Turkish strategic relations

With an Erdogan-Putin summit on Tuesday, joined by Iran on Wednesday, it is time for Europe to face facts - Turkey's ties with the West are no longer strategic. When Europe goes hither, Turkey deliberately goes thither.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  2. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  3. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  4. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  5. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  6. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  7. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  8. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight