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European Union External Action

EU-Libya relations, factsheet

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Through diplomatic action and concrete support, the EU is assisting Libya's transition towards a stable, functioning country and is supporting UN mediation efforts in this regard. The EU underlines Libyan ownership of the political process and the importance of inclusiveness, notably through the participation of political and local actors, women and civil society.

The EU provides assistance to Libya and the Libyan people through a set of measures, including supporting a political transition and a negotiated settlement acceptable to all legitimate groups in the country, bilateral assistance, including humanitarian assistance and targeted assistance in the field of migration, as well as support through its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations, especially EUNAVFORMED Operation Sophia and EUBAM.


Support for political transition and negotiated settlement

The EU has been supporting efforts to implement the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) agreed in December 2015, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA[1]) that was formed under the terms of the Agreement and local authorities through institution building, including the deployment of Stabilisation Facility funding to restore public infrastructure and improve inter-governmental coordination.

The EU works closely with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya under the leadership of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General to facilitate the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement and support mediation efforts to ensure all parties in Libya come together in a spirit of compromise and reconciliation to make the Agreement work and prevent conflict, in the interest of all Libyans.

The EU also supports the mediation activities of 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 in order to advance the political process and assist Libya in its democratic transition. 


Bilateral assistance

The EU has been providing significant support to the Libyans since the beginning of the crisis.

EU support is provided mainly through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) and the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP).  

The EU currently has a package of close to €120 million in bilateral support to Libya in 37 projects across six sectors: civil society; governance; health; youth and education; migration and protection; and support to the political process, security and mediation. Many of these projects, which were suspended in 2014 due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation, have been resumed with the arrival of the Government of National Accord (GNA).

This includes €12.8 million in humanitarian aid in 2016/2017, providing assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and other vulnerable groups in conflict-affected areas.


Cooperation on migration and protection of migrants

The EU main priority regarding migration is to protect migrants in Libya and support local communities to cope with the challenge.

The EU's support to Libya on migration focusses on programmes that facilitate access to basic services, support to host communities by providing employment opportunities for both local population and migrants, assistance and protection to vulnerable migrants. It also aims at helping to improve living conditions in detention centres and disembarkation points, as well as assisting voluntary returns of stranded migrants.

The EU has mobilised €136 million on migration-related projects, 116 million under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) and 20 million as bilateral assistance.

A first project, implemented by a group of Non-Governmental Organisations led by the Danish Refugee Council, will help to strengthen protection and resilience of displaced populations in Libya -including refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, internally displaced people- and build the capacity of local authorities to manage migration flows in a protection sensitive manner (6 million euros).

A second programme is implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to support protection and voluntary humanitarian repatriation and reintegration of vulnerable migrants in Libya aiming to respond the magnitude of irregular migration attempts across the Mediterranean. This will be done through interventions in reception centres at points of disembarkation and migrant detention centres which are likewise underequipped to provide minimum decent living conditions and where there are reports of abuse and exploitation (20 million euro).

A third project implemented by a number of international partners (of €90 million) will focus on both protection and assistance to those in need, and stabilization of the local communities:

1) Protection and assistance for all those in need, with the aim to expand the protection space in Libya, with a particular focus on migrants and refugees - to be implemented by the IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF.

2) Stabilisation, aiming at supporting socio-economic development at municipal level and local governance, in order to better integrate migrants, internally displaced persons and returnees and stabilise host communities - implemented by UNDP, GIZ, IOM and UNICEF


CSDP Missions and Operations

The EU is engaged in providing focussed support to Libya through its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations: EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia, EUBAM Libya and the EU Liaison and Planning Cell.


EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia

EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia was launched in June 2015 as part of the EU's broader action to provide a comprehensive response to the global migration and refugee crisis and to encourage a democratic, stable and prosperous Libya. It aims at countering human trafficking and smuggling by taking action against the criminal networks and disrupting the smugglers business model. So far the Operation contributed to the apprehension of dozens of suspected smugglers and traffickers and has neutralised more than 440 assets. While operating on the high seas off the coast of Libya, Operation Sophia has also rescued more than 36 600 lives.

In June 2016, Operation Sophia's mandate was broadened to include two supporting tasks, namely capacity building and training of the Libyan Navy and Coastguard, and contributing to information sharing and contribution to the implementation of the UN arms embargo in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2292. This addition to the original mandate was underpinned by the objective to contribute to the return of stability both off and along the coast of Libya. On the one hand, the contribution to the fight against weapons smuggling on the high seas as defined under UNSCR 2292 aims at preventing the security situation from deteriorating further. On the other hand, the decision to support the building of a Libyan coastguard capacity aims at enhancing the Libyan Navy and Coastguard's ability to disrupt smuggling and trafficking activities, perform search and rescue activities and improve overall security in Libyan territorial waters.

The training of the Coastguard is being implemented in three packages. Operation Sophia has been able to formally complete an initial package of sea-based training for an initial group of 93 trainees, including 39 personnel for patrol boat crews. Operation Sophia initiated a second package of shore-based training as of late January 2017 in Greece and Malta resulting in the training of an additional 40 personnel. An offer for subsequent modules was recently confirmed by Italy and Spain for respectively 255 and 36 personnel subject to Libyan navy coastguard's ability to identify further training audience.



EUBAM Libya was initially launched in May 2013 as an integrated border management mission in Libya. The mission was downsized in 2014 due to the deteriorating security situation and relocated to Tunis.

In February 2016, its mandate was amended to provide for a possible civilian capacity building and assistance crisis management mission in the field of security sector reform, focussing on police, criminal justice, border security and migration. This future CSDP mission would need to be requested by the Libyan authorities (GNA) and subsequently endorsed by the Council.

This planning mission is analysing the police, criminal justice system and border management systems in Libya, with a special focus on irregular migration and counterterrorism while working on establishing a presence in Tripoli. The mission also retains a limited capacity to assist and engage with Libyan parties on providing advice to the Ministry of Interior on "areas of legality" in Tripoli, supporting efforts to tackle organised crime ashore and reducing pressure on Libya's Southern borders.


EULPC (EU Liaison and Planning Cell)

The United Nations Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) leads international efforts to support the peace and security process in Libya.

The main objective for the EULPC is to support UNSMIL on operationalising the Libya security track, working closely together with the UNSMIL Security Infrastructure Division. The EULPC is providing vital military planning and intelligence capacity to the UNSMIL SID currently focussing on the implementation of the Tripoli Security Plan, the Presidential Guard and the UN plan to return to Libya.

The EULPC consists of  seven military planners under the lead of the Security Adviser to the Head of the EU Delegation to Libya.

[1] The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has been internationally recognised as the sole legitimate government of Libya, as endorsed in UN Security Council Resolutions 2259 and 2278.