European Union External Action

EU-Libya relations

Brussels, 02/03/2021 - 10:13, UNIQUE ID: 170125_11

The European Union (EU) has a strong interest in a stable, secure, united and prosperous Libya. Through diplomatic action and bilateral support, the EU seeks to assist the country and the Libyan people to return to peace and resume the transition to democracy. The EU fully supports the United Nations (UN)-led mediation efforts in the Libyan conflict.

The EU is one of the largest provider of assistance in Libya. EU projects aim at strengthening civil society, human rights and free media, democratic governance, health services and COVID-19 response, entrepreneurship, youth empowerment,  and gender equality. An important area of EU support to Libya remains migration management, support to Libyan communities that host a particularly high number of migrants as well as to refugees and migrants themselves, and the protection of vulnerable groups.

The EU’s Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI contributes to the implementation of the UN arms embargo and of UN measures against the illicit export of crude oil and other petroleum products from Libya, capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy as well as the disruption of human smuggling and trafficking networks at sea.

The European Union Integrated Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya) supports the Libyan authorities in their efforts to disrupt organised criminal networks involved in smuggling of migrants, human trafficking and terrorism. EUBAM works with the Libyan authorities on border management, law enforcement and criminal justice, and facilitates donor coordination in these areas.

The EU established the EU Liaison and Planning Cell (EULPC) to provide key security, intelligence and planning expertise to the EU and to the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

Political support

The EU cooperates closely with the UN and is actively engaged in the UN-led Berlin Process for Libya aiming to restore peace and stability across the country.

Following the Berlin Conference on Libya in January 2020, and in line with the commitments made by the Berlin participants, the EU adopted sanctions against spoilers of the political process, violators of human rights and international humanitarian law, people traffickers. The EU has repeatedly called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and urged all Libyan parties and international actors to refrain from military action that could further exacerbate the conflict.

The EU is pursuing active diplomatic engagement and outreach to encourage the Libyans and their outside backers to implement the October 2020 Ceasefire Agreement and is in constant dialogue with UN and Libyan counterparts on how to best support this process. The EU fully supports the UN in its efforts to sustain the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) and welcomes the February 2021 agreement by the LPDF on a transitional unified executive authority for Libya. This is an important milestone in the Berlin Process and on the way to lead the country towards national elections to be held on 24 December 2021. The EU works with both the High National Elections Commission and the Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections (CCMCE) with the aim to help build institutional capacity to prepare and deliver credible elections.

As co-chair of the Economic Working Group of the Berlin Process, the EU is supporting the Libyans in developing a more sustainable and transparent way to manage oil revenues and to prioritise economic reforms urgently needed to address the dire economic situation in Libya.

EU assistance

Overall, EU assistance for Libya reached about EUR 700 million over the last years under different external financing instruments, mainly bilateral assistance under the European Neighbourhood Instrument, funds from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, from the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace and humanitarian assistance. It also includes funding from the Development Cooperation Instrument, notably its thematic budget lines for Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities as well as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights for projects focusing on human rights and gender. Libya also benefits from Erasmus+ programmes focusing on mobility of staff and students, capacity building for higher education and Erasmus Mundus scholarships.

Since 2014, the EU has allocated about EUR 98 million of bilateral assistance to Libya under the European Neighbourhood Instrument, while ongoing projects under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) amount to EUR 46.75 million in support of crises response in Libya.

The EU bilateral assistance focuses on the following sectors:

Governance: the EU supports the reinforcement of public administration capacities at central and local levels. EU assistance promotes good governance, protection of human rights and the reinforcement of the rule of law.

Economic development: the EU is seeking to improve the business environment, the capacities of business support services and Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs), and access to finance for SMEs.

Health: the EU contributes to improving the access to quality health services in Libya. It helps strengthen the capacities of relevant authorities and staff.

Civil society and youth: the EU contributes to reinforce the capacities of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). The EU also supports the Libyan youth through programmes that help them develop the skills required by the labour market.

Mediation and stability: the EU contributes to improved public services, conflict mediation and conflict resolution efforts including through the direct provision of assistance to the national political process.

Demining: the EU is providing technical expertise and equipment to the Libyan authorities to help clear the estimated 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of uncontrolled munitions, improvised explosive devices and other remnants of war that pose a deadly risk to the local population.

Hate speech/disinformation: the EU is closely monitoring the growing impact of online and offline disinformation campaigns on the security situation in Libya. Awareness raising campaigns through local influencers and opinion makers aim at combatting hate speech and fake news. The EU offers training for journalists and media professionals to counter disinformation and build effective fact checking platforms.

EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa

The EU has allocated around EUR 455 million under the North of Africa window of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), making Libya its biggest beneficiary. The majority of these funds goes for the protection and assistance of migrants, refugees and internally displaced people and support for municipalities along the migratory routes, as well as actions strengthening integrated border management.

In November 2017, the EU together with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) set up a Trilateral Task Force on migration to accelerate both the assisted voluntary returns of migrants by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and humanitarian evacuations of refugees by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The EUTF has contributed substantially to humanitarian evacuations of more than 5,850 refugees from Libya and more than 51,100 voluntary humanitarian returns of migrants to their countries of origin. IOM and UNHCR are also carrying out protection and assistance in detention centres, at disembarkation points and in urban locations.

The EU aims to improve the living conditions of migrants and host communities along the migratory routes and funds dedicated programmes for the stabilisation of municipalities. Over 4.7 million people have meanwhile improved access to basic services following the rehabilitation of social infrastructures (hospitals, schools, water and electricity).

The EU allocated around EUR 57 million under the EUTF to support Libyan border management authorities, Search and Rescue (SAR) activities at sea and at land, as well as law enforcement. It covers the refurbishment of facilities such as of the maritime rescue coordination centre, the national coordination centre, SAR vessels, maintenance activities, vehicles, communication equipment and hygiene kits, as well as capacity building, embedded in a human rights based approach.

Humanitarian aid

Since 2011, the EU has allocated EUR 75.3 million in humanitarian aid to respond to the most pressing needs in Libya. EU assistance focuses on the treatment of war-wounded and support to forcibly displaced populations, the host communities as well as migrants and refugees in conflict-affected areas. Protection of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, education in emergencies, promotion of respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law as well as coordination/logistical support of the humanitarian response are other areas of EU support.

Response to COVID-19

EU programmes worth over EUR 66 million, mostly from EUTF Africa funds, but also from bilateral and humanitarian funding, contribute to the COVID-19 response in Libya.

Humanitarian actions have been adjusted in 2020 to assist the Libyan COVID-19 response through awareness raising, hygiene promotion and supporting health facilities with personal protection equipment.

Bilateral programmes contribute to the COVID-19 response by reinforcing the health system, fighting disinformation, and supporting the post-crisis economic recovery.

Through the EUTF Africa, the EU supported the fragile public health system already before the pandemic outbreak. Since then, EUTF Africa actions were refocused to contribute to the COVID-19 response through a variety of interventions such as fumigation and sterilisation campaigns, distribution of essential personal protective equipment, training to medical staff, as well as awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of the virus among vulnerable groups.

Most recently, a EUR 20 million COVID-19 specific programme was adopted, under which the EU works with WHO, IOM and UNICEF to assist the authorities to better coordinate the virus response across the country, and provide for the most urgent needs of health care providers. This project is expected to directly benefit more than 1 million people and indirectly around 4.5 million people in Libya.