European Union Election Observation Mission

Liberia 2017

Libya: Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the Berlin Conference on Libya

Berlin, 23/06/2021 - 20:55, UNIQUE ID: 210624_6
HR/VP speeches

I would like to thank Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Germany, Heiko] Maas, [United Nations] Secretary General [António] Guterres and all those who have invested so much effort to allow this conference to take place today. I also warmly welcome Prime Minister [Abdul Hamid Mohammed] Dbeibah and the Libyan delegation.

Their presence today here is possibly the strongest evidence of the long road that we have walked together in the last one and a half years. As many of you have been pointing out.

This was possible thanks to the Berlin process, to the German initiative, to the restless work of the United Nations and, even more crucial, to the Libyan leadership, commitment and ownership.

Constructive and inclusive dialogue at the end pays off. Full sovereignty, the reunification of its institutions and a stable future for Libya now look possible.

As we said, there are still significant challenges. But this is precisely why our meeting at this crucial juncture is a very timely opportunity to look ahead and see how we can all help Libya to consolidate this significant progress. This is a historic opportunity that cannot be lost. To avoid this, we have to address two priorities:

  1. The organisation of the parliamentary and presidential elections on 24 December, essential to complete the transition and to establish a fully legitimate government;         
  2. The full implementation of the Ceasefire agreement, which includes the quick withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries.

We, in the European Union, are ready to further engage on both purposes.

On the elections:

  • we have already mobilised resources to provide support to the High National Electoral Commission;  
  • we will promote the participation of women, youth and vulnerable groups;
  • we will work on voter education programmes;  
  • we will help strengthening the fight against disinformation.
  • we are thinking on how we can ensure international and domestic observation of the elections, hoping that the conditions will allow for it.

On Security:       

  • We have the European Union Integrated Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya) in Tripoli (they never left Tripoli, despite all difficulties), advising the Libyan authorities on border management, law enforcement and criminal justice;
  • After Berlin 1, we deployed our Operation [EUNAVFOR MED] Irini, the only international presence in the Mediterranean contributing specifically to the implementation of the UN arms embargo through monitoring and inspections. And it has already been said after Berlin 1, the flow of arms continued. We have just extended it for two years following the recent unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 2578. Irini is also ready to strengthen the capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy through trainings. We are going to deliver an important number of boats and we are ready to train the coast guards.
  • We are providing support in demining, allowing displaced people to return safely to their homes. 

These are concrete activities, not just words.


  • We are ready to consider additional tailor-made assistance directly related to the implementation of the Ceasefire, including training and equipping the future Joint Police Force. We have a lot of experience on military and police training.
  • We are also ready to engage in a more comprehensive reform of the security sector, including Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration of armed groups and fighters.

These are the immediate issues.

But most importantly, we need to look beyond immediate priorities and focus on longer term perspectives.

Libya will need to undertake to build a fully functioning state. And this is exactly what the European Union is good at helping. We are capable of bringing together different strands of actions in support of State building. And we are ready to put our expertise at the service of Libya. With the best will of helping.

Besides good governance and human development, we are also ready to engage in economic reforms, development of private sector and job creation.

Our own objective, together with the Libyans, is to create the conditions for Libya to become a key partner in the Mediterranean, fully associated to the European Neighbourhood Policy, like the other Mediterranean countries.

We hope that soon it will be possible to start negotiating a comprehensive Association Agreement between the European Union and Libya.

One last, but very important point. As Libyan neighbours, we are interested in the establishment of a comprehensive migration strategy, in line with international standards.

We have been actively engaged in supporting migration management over the past years. We focussed on the protection of the migrants and on border management. We are aware of the human rights violations and of the need to find alternatives to detention centres. Today, our spokesperson asked for the closure of all the camps. Already today, we are the main contributors to the UN agencies in Libya helping the migrants.

We therefore welcome the commitments of the Government of National Unity in this field and we are ready to work together on the sustainable management of migratory flows.

We have listened carefully to the Prime Minister’s request to support Libya not only in their Northern border, the one that we can see from Europe, but also consider the South, in a “whole of the route” approach. We are willing to coordinate with our African partners in this regard.

As you can see, the path ahead is an ambitious one. The European Union, as a neighbour, an economic partner, a primary investor and ally, will be at Libyan side to help overcome the dark days of conflict and reach a free and prosperous future.