Sunday

3rd Jul 2022

EU needs to 'rethink' approach to southern neighbourhood

Top EU officials are visiting Tunisia on Tuesday (31 March) to discuss security and migration as asylum seekers continue to head to the European Union from conflict-ridden Libya.

In a stopover in Malta on his way to Tunis on Monday, EU council president Donald Tusk described the situation in Libya as “a result of total anarchy”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • War in Libya adds to the misery of people seeking refuge in Europe (Photo: BRC)

Speaking alongside Malta’s PM Joseph Muscat, Tusk said there is no “silver bullet” response to a country that has become the main staging ground for people seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

Asylum applications in the EU last year increased by 44 percent to 626,000 when compared to 2013. Around one-fifth are Syrians fleeing civil war at home.

The EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, on Monday said between 500,000 and 1 million people are set to leave Libyan shores for Europe.

With recent incursions by Islamic state militants into Libya, the resulting turmoil has left the EU scrambling to find an answer.

Tusk said EU leaders are committed to putting an end to the suffering but ruled out any military intervention.

“What is less clear is how we can help. We need to think it over again. To come up with new, creative solutions. Not to stick to old ideas," he said.

The EU is backing the UN-mediated peace talks in Tripoli to put together a unity government led by its special envoy, Bernardino Leon.

But Leon earlier this month had called on the EU to mount a naval blockade off Libya to prevent the flow of weapons and the illegal export of oil.

"There's a measure that the European Union can take right away: Come out in force to guard the seas off Libya. Italy can't do it alone. It needs help,” Leon told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Leon’s comments were made around the same time Italy launched what it describes as an annual naval exercise off Libya.

Italian authorities say the deployment of military assets is part of a training exercise that “has nothing to do with other scenarios”.

Asked to comment, Tusk said he is open to the discussions on the blockage initiative with Italy’s PM.

“It is absolutely understandable for me that Italy is the leading country in this issue and we have to think about every initiative, also the initiative of member states,” said Tusk.

Tusk is now in Tunisia along with the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Kerchove.

Meanwhile, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance wants to expand cooperation with the EU to face new security threats and challenges.

“We also stand ready to work with Libya on defence capacity building when the security situation allows,” he said.

Stoltenberg said Nato is also working Jordan and Iraq.

“We believe we can project stability without always deploying large number of forces,” he said.

Pegasus spyware makers grilled by MEPs

"We will not continue to work with a customer that is targeting a journalist illegally," Chaim Gelfand, chief compliance officer of NSO Group told MEPs — but shed little light on EU governments' use of its Pegasus spyware.

Opinion

Romania — latest EU hotspot in backlash against LGBT rights

Romania isn't the only country portraying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a threat to children. From Poland and Hungary in EU, to reactionary movements around the world are prohibiting portrayals of LGBT people and families in schools.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us