Delegation of the European Union to Libya

Libya and the EU

12/05/2016 - 12:21
EU relations with Country

Through diplomatic action and concrete support, the European Union (EU) is assisting Libya’s political transition towards a stable, functioning country and is supporting the United Nations (UN) led mediation efforts in this regard. The EU underlines the importance of inclusiveness of the political process and Libyan ownership, notably through the participation of all legitimate Libyan stakeholders.

Relations between the EU and its immediate neighbours are governed by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Within this framework, the EU offers its neighbours a privileged relationship and enhanced cooperation in areas determined by jointly formulated priorities. With its ENP partners, the EU aims to strengthen prosperity, stability and security for all based on the shared values of democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development. However, unlike most other countries of the region, Libya has not concluded an Association Agreement with the EU.

As Libya's transition progresses, EU assistance will increasingly shift focus to longer-term needs. In the longer term, the EU will seek to intensify the EU-Libya political relationship and financial and technical cooperation via the different instruments under the European Neighbourhood Policy.

      The EU assists Libya's political transition and underlines in particular the need for an inclusive Libyan-owned process. In this regard, the EU firmly supports the UN-led mediation process and the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) to implement the UN Action Plan on Libya and bring about a lasting solution to the political crisis.


      The EU works closely with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) under the leadership of the SRSG to support the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), consolidation of governance, security and economic arrangements and assist in helping Libyans to prepare for elections through support for the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC).


      The EU also engages with neighbours and regional partners including by coordinating efforts with the league of Arab States (LAS), the African Union (AU), and the United Nations (UN) in the framework of the Libya Quartet to advance the political process and assist Libya in its democratic transition.


      The EU Delegation to Libya hosts the EU Liaison and Planning Cell (EULPC) set up in the framework of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The mission works closely with the UNSMIL Security Institutions Divisions (SID).  The main objective is to support UNSMIL in operationalizing all the military and police aspects of the security track of the Libyan Political Agreement.


      The EU emphasizes the need for full implementation of sanctions put in place against persons and entities threatening peace and security in Libya. The EU implements sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council, including an arms embargo, asset freeze and a travel ban. In addition, the EU has adopted a regulation extending the arms embargo to also include any equipment that may be used for internal repression as well as goods with potential dual use.   


      The UN has adopted measures aiming to increase the compliance with these sanctions, for instance by requiring that Member States carry out inspections and deny entry, passage and exit of flights and vessels suspected of carrying material subject to sanctions.


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      The EU's main priority regarding migration is to protect migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in Libya and to support local communities to cope with the challenge.


      The EU's support to Libya with regards to migration focuses on programmes that facilitate access to basic services, support to host communities by providing employment opportunities for both the local population and for migrants, and assistance and protection to vulnerable migrants. It also aims at helping to improve conditions for migrants and refugees at disembarkation points and in detention centres, as well as assisting voluntary returns of stranded migrants to their countries of origin and support the evacuation of those in need of international protection.


      Since its creation at the Valetta Summit on Migration in November 2015, the EUTF has been the EU's main tool for actions in support to the migration related issues in Libya. In a continuous effort to address instability and irregular migration involving Libya, the EUTF has mobilized so far €367.7 million in projects, under three main components:


      • Protection and assistance to migrants, refugees and internally displaced people
      • Stabilisation of Libyan municipalities
      • Integrated border management


      All EUTF projects are implemented by international partners on the ground, such as UN agencies, EU Member States and international non-governmental organisations.


      In November 2017, the EU together with the African Union and the United Nations set up a joint Task Force to accelerate both the programme of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for assisted voluntary returns and the emergency transit mechanism of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On this occasion, leaders also adopted a Joint Statement on the Migrant Situation in Libya.


      Two EU missions set up under the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) – EUBAM Libya and EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia – have mandates with relevance to migration. The EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM) was launched in May 2013 as an integrated border management mission. After amendments, its current objective is to provide for a possible civilian capacity-building, assistance and crisis management mission in the field of security sector reform with a focus on police, criminal justice, border security and migration.


      In June 2015, EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia was launched as part of the EU's broader action to provide a comprehensive response to the global migration and refugee crisis. Its objective is to counter human trafficking and smuggling by taking action against criminal networks and disruption their business model. Since June 2016, the operation also supports the Libyan Navy and Coastguard with capacity building and trainings, and contributes to the implementation of the UN arms embargo. In March 2019, the mission's mandate was amended to temporarily suspend its naval operations. This mandate was last extended in September 2019 and is currently set to expire in March 2020.


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      The European Union is the biggest trading partner of Libya, accounting for 55% of the country's total trade in 2017.


      Libya is the only Mediterranean country - with the exception of Syria – that has not yet concluded a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. Trade relations between the European Union and Libya have so far taken place outside a bilateral legal framework governing bilateral relations.


      Libya has an observer status in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Euromed is one of the key initiatives of the European Neighbourhood Policy, through which the EU offers its neighbours a privileged relationship. Euromed is an essential component in the pursuit of greater economic integration in the Mediterranean region, including among Mediterranean partners themselves.


      Libya is also not a WTO member. Negotiations for Libya's accession to the WTO started in 2004. The negotiation for the Framework Agreement on trade between the EU and Libya, which started in 2008, would have paved the way for Libyan WTO accession. However negotiations were suspended in February 2011. Resumption of bilateral negotiations with Libya still remains as an option. However, the political transition in Libya is stalled with an increased level of violence. The lack of political settlement is preventing for the time being any trade discussion with this country.

      The European Union is a strong partner in support of the political transition and stabilisation of Libya. The EU is the biggest donor of bilateral assistance to Libya and since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, the EU has made significant efforts to support improved governance, economic development and stability.

      Cooperation within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) framework builds upon formal agreements between the EU and partner countries that in turn inform joint bilateral action plans. However, unlike most other countries of the region, Libya has not concluded an Association Agreement with the EU and therefore also did not negotiate any Partnership Priorities defining the strategic priorities for EU-Libya cooperation.

      Due to the ongoing conflict, Libya benefits EU support via annual "special measures", rather than the multi-annual support programming that the EU negotiates with other partners. Libya also benefits from support from other relevant regional and thematic financing instruments.

       For detailed information regarding financing instruments, programmes and project, see Projects.


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      For more detailed information regarding programmes and project, see Projects.

      The European commission provides humanitarian assistance to those in need, through UN agencies and other international organisations, in full respect of the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. All EU funding is strictly monitored.


      In 2019, the EU provided humanitarian funding worth €8 million. The assistance targets Libyans displaced by conflict and helps the most vulnerable gain access to primary health case and emergency medicines, education in emergencies, psychosocial support, food assistance and other essential support.


      The EU is engaged in coordination, advocacy and capacity building with international and national partners to improve the effectiveness, quality and efficiency of the humanitarian response in Libya.

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