Today, in response to the Malta Declaration by the members of the European Council on managing migration in the Mediterranean, Marietje Schaake sent a letter to President Juncker and High Representative Mogherini. Together with the 13 other signatories, she urged the EU to come up with a comprehensive strategy on its relations with Libya, based on values and adhering to fundamental principles and human rights.
Please find the letter and co-signatories below.
Dear President, Dear High-Representative,
We are writing to express our concern about the situation in Libya. The so-called Islamic State, or DAESH has been driven from its last stronghold in Sirte last month. Yet problems persist with other (military) groups active in Libya, who refuse to recognise and endorse the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in Tripoli and backed by the UN.
It is particularly worrying that General Khalifa Haftar, who heads various militias in the east of Libya and supports a rival Parliament and Government based in Tobruk, is increasingly turning towards Russia, for military support. A confrontation between Haftar’s troops and forces loyal to the GNA would pose a risk to any process of stabilisation and reconstruction and would fuel further conflict.
Additionally, the Libyan economy has been on the verge of collapse since 2011. Failure by state authorities to control oil producing and export facilities continues to lead to millions in loss of income as a result of smuggling. At the same time, Libya’s oil extraction and production facilities urgently require foreign investment to be brought back to full scale production.
Libya is a major departure and transfer country for refugees and migrants seeking to reach European shores. We understand and encourage your efforts to find ways to save lives and for the EU to take responsibility of the management of migration flows to Europe. Yet we believe that the EU’s focus on migration in its relations with Libya has become overly dominant, pushing aside any attempts to work with the GNA on issues such as nation-building, stabilisation, rule of law, democracy and human rights.
Seeking a 'deal/agreement' similar to the one concluded between the EU and Turkey (leaving aside the substance of that agreement itself) cannot be replicated for Libya, as suggested by the current Maltese presidency. Libya is in the middle of a civil war and cannot be considered as a safe third country. Any EU attempt to work with recognised Libyan authorities on migration should go hand in hand with improving the conditions within Libya and remaining committed to the principles of human rights that lie at the heart of the EU.
We therefore urgently ask you to supplement your proposals on migration management, which predominantly focus on strengthening Libya’s land and sea borders, with a comprehensive strategy on the future of Libya. To ultimately conclude a comprehensive EU-Libya framework agreement, we believe it is essential to start working with the recognised Libyan authorities, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj on building a clear framework of political and economic relations between the EU and Libya.
We welcome the possibility to receive regular updates on any progress made in EU-Libya relations.
Izaskun Bilbao Barandica
Morten Helveg Petersen