Thursday

21st Jun 2018

Opinion

Was Eufor Libya an April fool's joke?

The international community's action was crucial to prevent a massacre in Benghazi. The military intervention in Libya, legitimised by UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1973, also had a historical dimension by putting into practice the UN concept of the 'Responsibility to Protect'.

When I visited eastern Libya in mid-May, I saw Gaddafi's wrecked tanks on the road just 20 minutes from the city centre of Benghazi. The French-led military strike was launched just before it was too late ... and the Libyans know it: I was warmly greeted in the streets and on the frontline, near Adjabya, with young people shouting cheerfully: "Merci, Sarkozy!"

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.

... our join as a group

Two days after I left, the EU's high representative for foreign relations, Catherine Ashton, opened an EU delegation in Benghazi. The EU flag is now flying above the courthouse in the newly-named Freedom Square as a symbol of European solidarity. The EU also provided already more than €140 million for humanitarian needs.

But in the security sphere, the EU has failed to act together.

Instead, EU member states took action unilaterally and with limitations under the aegis of Nato. Eufor Libya - the name of the EU's mooted military-humanitarian mission, announced on 1 April - is now seen as an April fool's. It was never launched because it was made dependent on a request from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) - which never came. Nor does it need to come - a mandate, UNSC 1973 - is already in place.

Because EU capitals could not reach agreement on a full-scale Common Security and Defence (CSDP) operation, Eurfor Libya was presented as a mission to support humanitarian assistance.

This was a mistake: as a CSDP operation, it should have military and civilian components (namely police for supporting security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration operations). It should aim at the enforcement of the EU-UN arms embargo, surveillance of borders and, chiefly, the protection of civilians in Libya.

On top of this, portraying Eufor Libya as an answer to humanitarian needs risks jeopardising existing humanitarian operations. Humanitarian organisations shun links with the military in order to protect their image of impartiality, which is crucial to ensure access to victims of conflict on all sides.

Eufor Libya could also help open up space for humanitarian work, by establishing safe corridors, such as those needed for assistance to the besieged villages in the mountains west of Tripoli.

As for Nato's role in Libya, it must not serve as an excuse for EU inaction in the security field.

The EU is missing a tremendous opportunity to act in a co-ordinated manner, within the CSDP framework and in close co-operation with Nato. Eufor has the opportunity to genuinely change the stalemate on the ground.

At the political level, the EU's top priority should be to release part of the regime's frozen assets, which belong to Libya, to enable the Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC), under UNSC oversight, to respond to the basic needs of the population and to keep running the administration in the liberated zones.

In the post-Gaddafi period, Libyans and the international community will expect even more from Europe.

The European External Action Service needs to prepare now to be ready to provide technical assistance for the construction of a democratic state in Libya.

Key priorities will be demobilisation and reintegration of all the civilians-turned-combatants, national reconciliation, constitutional, electoral and judiciary reforms, creation of democratic political parties, support for independent media and civil society, with human rights, gender equality and environmental sustainability as main concerns.

It is a great challenge in the EU's neighbourhood. It is also an opportunity not to be missed by the EU to invest in the values it preaches: democracy and human rights. Only in this way will EU strategic interests be served.

The author is a member of the European Parliament and its rapporteur on Libya

EU oil companies set to return to Libya

EU oil firms are preparing to return to Libya amid good will generated by Nato support. The military alliance has also carried out "prudent planning" for a potential peacekeeping mission.

East Timor could serve as model for UN mission in Libya

Unarmed UN-hatted police supported by African Union and Arab League soldiers as well as Nato air-lift and sea-lift capabilities is emerging as the preferred model for a post-Gaddafi peacekeeping mission in Libya.

France calls Libya victory summit, warns Syria

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called a high-level meeting on Libya's post-Gaddafi future and promised support - but no military action - for opposition forces in Syria.

EU needs comprehensive 'sexuality education'

The subject is mandatory by law in some form in nearly all EU countries - but it is mostly reproduction- and biology-centred, covering topics such as unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections.

Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance

Europe's choice is between unplanned, reactive, fragmented, ineffective migration policy and planned, regulated, documented movements of people, writes International Rescue Committee chief David Miliband.

EU needs comprehensive 'sexuality education'

The subject is mandatory by law in some form in nearly all EU countries - but it is mostly reproduction- and biology-centred, covering topics such as unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections.

Long-distance animal transport: unthinkable still happening

A complete overhaul of animal products' supply chains is needed, privileging local food chains including local slaughtering which is proven to benefit the environment, the resilience of our economy, food safety and animal welfare.

News in Brief

  1. PES to announce 'spitzenkandidat' names in October
  2. Macedonian parliament ratifies name deal
  3. EU to hit US with import duties from Friday
  4. Commission: New on-road CO2 test would take years
  5. Juncker orders migration 'mini-summit' on Sunday
  6. Luxembourg gave illegal state aid to energy firm
  7. Negotiators lower finger printing age of refugees to six
  8. EU to lift its internal data storage barriers

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. How to get around the EU posted workers directive
  2. EU needs comprehensive 'sexuality education'
  3. Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance
  4. Merkel, Macron in pre-summit pledge on migration, eurozone
  5. Hungary to push ahead with 'Stop Soros' law on NGOs
  6. Swedish party puts EU referendums back in fashion
  7. EU summit set to outsource asylum
  8. Dutch request to clarify Brexit Britons' rights annulled

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  2. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  4. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  7. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  9. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  10. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  12. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us