European Union External Action

EU-Libya relations

Brussels, 25/09/2019 - 11:13, UNIQUE ID: 170125_11

Through diplomatic action and bilateral support, the European Union (EU) is helping Libya return to peace and resume its political transition towards a stable, secure and prosperous country. The EU is the biggest donor of humanitarian aid and provides bilateral assistance, with measures tailored to the needs of the Libyan people in the areas of governance, health, civil society, youth and education, mediation and stability. Its CSDP civilian and military missions are assisting the Libyans in fighting smuggling and trafficking and addressing security challenges. The EU has been working closely with the UN, in particular on migration management, by supporting the UN Agencies' work on protection and assistance of migrants, refugees and internally displaced people.

Support for the political process


The EU remains the stronger supporter of the UN in Libya and of Special Representative of the Secretary General Ghassan Salamé in his attempts to bring about a lasting solution to the political and security crisis that has beset the country for eight years since the uprising in February 2011. 


Since the war erupted again in Tripoli in April 2019, the EU has redoubled its efforts to convince the Libyan, regional and international stakeholders that the only solution to the crisis is a lasting ceasefire and a return to political negotiations. 


To this end, the EU will continue to engage with Libya's 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. 


Once a ceasefire is in place, the EU will accompany the UN's initiatives to prepare a national conference and approve the necessary constitutional and legislative framework to eventually hold elections. 


Humanitarian aid 


The European Commission provides humanitarian assistance to people in need, through UN agencies and other international organizations, in full respect of the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.  Since 2014, the EU has been providing humanitarian funding worth €44 million. Assistance goes mainly to people displaced by conflict, to help the most vulnerable gaining access to primary health care and emergency medicines, education, psychosocial support, food assistance and other essential support including protection services.

Bilateral assistance


The EU has allocated around €103 million to support the Libyans in areas of governance, health, civil society, youth and education, mediation and stability activities.  


On governance, the EU support aims at reinforcing the capacity of the institutions and promoting the development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). It encompasses a wide array of subsectors of interventions including the institutional support to the core governmental functions such as those of the Ministries of Labour and Finance and the Libyan Central Bank, municipalities and local councils, CSOs and media professionals. 


On health, the EU support aims at improving the access to quality health services, capacity building of relevant authorities and training staff. 


On civil societythe EU action consists of financing projects which strengthen management and technical skills of CSOs to enable them to participate effectively in the political transition and socioeconomic development of Libya and help them to co-ordinate through the national CSOs platforms.


On youth and education, the EU supports the Libyan youth through education programmes to help them develop their skills and knowledge required by the labour market.


On mediation and stability, the EU supports the GNA and the UN action plan for stabilisation by supporting the delivery of public services, conflict mediation and conflict resolution efforts including through the direct provision of assistance to the national political process.


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 (EULPC). The CSDP actions in Libya complement and are coordinated with those operating in the Sahel. 


EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia


EUNAVFOR Med - Operation Sophia was launched in June 2015 as part of the EU's broader action to respond to the global migration and refugee crisis. It aims at countering human trafficking and smuggling by disrupting criminal networks and their business model. Operation Sophia has contributed to the apprehension of over 151 suspected smugglers and traffickers and has neutralised close to 551 assets. While operating off the coast of Libya on the high seas, Operation Sophia has also been involved in rescuing over 44,900 lives.


In September 2019, the Council approved the extension of the operation's mandate for a further 6 months until 31 March 2020.




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 in the country and relocated to Tunis. The mission has established a light presence in Tripoli since December 2017.

On 17 December 2018, EUBAM's mandate was amended from 1 January 2019 until 30 June 2020 to actively support Libyan authorities in contributing to efforts to disrupt organised criminal networks involved in smuggling of migrants, human trafficking and terrorism. The Mission supports the Libyan authorities in the areas of border management, law enforcement and criminal justice in: a) the development of a broader border management framework in Libya, including a maritime security strategy, through capacity delivery and implementing projects; b) capacity building and strategic planning within the Interior Ministry on law enforcement; c) institutional reform and providing strategic planning assistance to the Justice Ministry and broader capacity building for relevant criminal justice actors; and d) through a strategic coordination and project cell capacity. 


EULPC (EU Liaison and Planning Cell)


Established in April 2015, is one of the concrete EU contributions in support of Libya's democratic transition through strengthening the security in close coordination with the UN, the Libyan authorities, key partners and regional actors. The EULPC is the main security analysis provider for the International Community in Tunis and has a high level of situational awareness and knowledge of politico-security dynamics. EULPC's prime objective is to provide local support and liaison to other EU actors, primarily to the EU Delegation to Libya, EUBAM Libya and EUNAVFORMED Operation Sophia.


Support for migration management 


The EU has allocated around € 367.7 million support under the North of Africa window of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) and the bilateral assistance for protection and assistance of migrants, refuges and internally displaced people, support for municipalities along the migratory routes and strengthening the integrated border management. 


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


The EUTF has contributed substantially to the establishment of a Gathering and Departure facility in Tripoli and to around 4,400 humanitarian evacuations of refugees and around 48,000 voluntary humanitarian returns of migrants to their countries of origin by the IOM and the EU Member States since January 2017. The IOM and the UNHCR are also carrying out protection and assistance in detention centres, at disembarkation points and in the host communities.


The EU aims also to improve the living conditions of migrants and host communities along the migratory routes and funds the dedicated programmes on the stabilisation of municipalities. This action includes the support to rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and providing basic services. 


EU is also strengthening the capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) to save lives through trainings on search and rescue with a particular focus on human rights.