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Developments in Libya: an overview of the EU's response

17. March 2011. | 10:15

Source: Emg.rs

As fighting goes on in Libya, the European Union firmly condemns the Libyan regime's violent repression of its citizens and the systematic violation of human rights.

As fighting goes on in Libya, the European Union firmly condemns the Libyan regime's violent repression of its citizens and the systematic violation of human rights.

On 11 March, EU leaders at their summit in Brussels declared that Muammar Gaddafi must step down. His regime has lost all legitimacy. The EU considers the interim transitional national Council in Benghazi as a political interlocutor.

In order to protect the civilian population, member states will examine all necessary options, provided that there is a demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region. The evacuation of EU citizens and other nationals remains a priority, as well as addressing humanitarian needs in Libya and at its borders.

The High Representative Catherine Ashton has established a task force bringing together European External Action Service and Commission experts to adapt the EU's existing instruments for helping the countries of Northern Africa. The aim is to provide a comprehensive package of measures tailored to the specific needs of each country. A technical fact-finding mission has visited Libya to assess the situation on the ground.

The Partnership with the Southern Mediterranean

At the European Council on 11 March, the High Representative and the Commission presented a proposal for a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean. Such a partnership should also be founded on deeper economic integration, broader market access and political cooperation.

The High Representative's meeting with the Arab League

The High Representative visited Egypt on 14 March to debrief the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, on the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 March and the European Council on 11 March. As to the possibility of a no-fly zone, she stressed that the EU is planning for all options, but looking to the legal basis for action which is the Security Council.

Arms embargo and other sanctions

The EU imposed further sanctions on Libya, including key Libyan financial institutions, on 10 March.

An arms embargo was already imposed on 28 February in line with the UN Security Council resolution and prohibited trade with Libya in any equipment which might be used for internal repression. The decision in the Council was taken with unprecedented speed.

The EU also imposed a visa ban and an assets freeze on Muammar Gaddafi and other persons responsible for the violent clampdown on civilians. The sanctions adopted by the EU both implement the measures called for by the UN and go further.

Negotiations on an EU-Libya framework agreement and ongoing cooperation contracts with the country have been suspended as of 22 February.

Speeding up the repatriation of EU nationals

The EU has pooled its resources to evacuate its citizens from Libya. Diplomatic missions of EU member states in Tripoli have worked day and night on the repatriation of nationals in coordination with the Hungarian embassy representing the Union on the ground. Since 23 February, as part of the Civil Protection Mechanism, the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) has been helping to identify and make available assets for evacuation, including by sea.

Ongoing evacuations have been focusing on Tripoli, Benghazi and the Jalu / Nafura region. The Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) is preparing contingency plans for evacuation of EU nationals by sea from the wider Tripoli region in the event that evacuation by air becomes impossible.

The EU Military Staff's planning and movement cell is liaising with member states and the MIC to facilitate the coordination of military assets for evacuation or humanitarian purposes. The EU Situation Centre is monitoring the situation and assisting member states in their efforts. The EU's consular on-line system is contributing to the exchange of information between member states. The EU's Satellite Centre is providing imagery to support evacuation efforts.

Border-control operation

In the central Mediterranean area, Italy and the EU border control agency Frontex are conducting a joint operation called Hermes 2011. Launched on 20 February following a formal request from the Italian government, the aim of the operation is to help Italy to cope with actual and potential migratory flows from Northern Africa. A large number of EU member states have provided technical assets (such as naval and aerial equipment) and specialised personnel.

In addition, Frontex and Europol have started risk analysis for the region to make it possible to respond better to developments on the ground.

Humanitarian aid

The humanitarian situation in Libya is still largely unknown, as access is very limited and the presence of humanitarian organisations remains sparse. Experts from the European Commission have been deployed in the eastern part of Libya where they are working on a first assessment of humanitarian needs.

Hungarian Minister of State Enikő Győri and Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, visited Tunisia’s border with Libya on 2 and 3 March to gather first-hand information.

The Commission has allocated 30 million euros to address humanitarian needs in Libya and neighbouring countries. Initially, medical and food aid, shelter and other necessities are being provided to refugees crossing into Tunisia and Egypt. As soon as the security situation in Libya allows, aid will also be provided inside the country.

Two weeks ago, two teams of ECHO (EU humanitarian aid and civil protection) experts were deployed on the borders of Libya with Tunisia and Egypt to analyse the humanitarian crisis.

Following the joint appeal by António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Organisation for Migration for a massive humanitarian evacuation programme for tens of thousands of Egyptians and other third country nationals on the Tunisian and Egyptian borders, the European Commission has already pledged a large portion of its funding to these two organisations.


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14. March - 20. March 2011.