Monday

21st May 2018

Leaders at EU summit to reinforce Libyan coast guard

  • Libya's coast guard has been accused of human rights abuse. (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

EU leaders will broadly avoid discussing refugee quotas at this week's summit due to internal disagreement but instead focus on stopping people coming to Europe.

The EU summit talks are part of a desperate plan to curtail the flow of migrants and refugees from Africa, as the EU imposes greater emphasis on security and border controls throughout the region.

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.

EU council president Donald Tusk, in a letter addressed to EU leaders on Wednesday (21 June), said more must be done to keep people from disembarking from Libya's 1,900 km coastline.

"I don't see why we cannot bear greater financial responsibility for the functioning of the Libyan navy coastguards," he said.

Tusk, who described the Libyan coastguard as allies in the fight against smugglers, noted that far more people are leaving the war-torn country to Italy compared to last year.

The issue will become a focal point of discussions among EU leaders on Friday afternoon in Brussels.

Senior diplomats have told reporters that the meeting on Friday will likely zone in on the external dimension of migration, where there is wider consensus.

Other more politically charged internal issues on migration, like imposing mandatory asylum quotas, are likely to get short shrift given the surrounding sensitivities among anti-asylum EU states.

"The focus on the whole migration issue will rather be on that side, the external one," noted one EU diplomat.

UN report on Libyan coast guard

A report earlier this month by the United Nations has also cast a long shadow over efforts to reinforce the Libyan coast guard.

A panel of experts at the UN body accused the coast guard of being directly involved in violating the human rights of migrants.

Those who are returned to the country are often placed into detention centres, some are held for ransom, while others are auctioned off in slave markets.

This year alone, the EU has trained 133 members of the Libyan coastguard, with many more awaiting training. The guard has plucked an estimated 23,000 people from Libya's territorial waters since 2016.

The scramble to prevent people from leaving includes wider proposals on border management in the Sahel region and along Libya's vast porous southern desert borders with Algeria, Chad and Niger.

Among the proposals is a joint Italy-German border management plan to secure the 400 km border with Niger.

Another involves the Swiss-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which is trying to stabilise the area by working with the different tribal groups. Italy is also carrying out a similar project.

While far fewer people are using the route in Niger to reach Libya, others are treading more dangerous paths.

In a statement, some 18 civil society organisations, including Save the Children, Amnesty International and Oxfam, have described the EU's external migration plans as broadly ineffective.

Rather than open up more legal routes to allow people to reach Europe, the EU is trying to impose barriers, they say.

"In spite of deterrence measures put in place, people continue to move in search of safety or a better life," noted the statement.

Libya and southern borders

The EU has earmarked around €90 million for Libya. The funding is supposed to improve conditions in the detention centres and help fund projects coordinated by a number of UN agencies as well as the German Development Agency.

But the tasks in Libya are wrought with difficulties given that the country still has no functioning state and is overrun by some 1,500 different armed militia groups.

Most people who end up in the country did so to seek work and not to leave for Europe, while others may have no option but to disembark.

Among them are Bangladeshis, who now count as among the largest nationality leaving Libya to reach Italy.

"A year ago, Bangladeshis were not coming through the Central Mediterranean route at all," noted one EU official.

Up until the end of April this year, around 4,600 Bangladeshis left Libya for Europe, behind 5,200 from Nigeria, and close to 6,000 from Guinea.

Most Libya migrants not headed to EU, aid group says

The International Organisation for Migration interviewed thousands of migrants in Libya last year. It found that 60 percent did not want to go to Europe, but had aimed to remain and find work in Libya.

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