Hundreds of millions of euros for Libyan borders: EU accused of militarising migration policy
The French website Mediapart has today published an article entitled 'Europe's secret plan to securitise Libya', which says that: "The European Union is investing hundreds of millions of euros in reinforcing Libya's borders, fearing that instability in the country will inflame the region and encourage migration to Europe."
"Failure of institutions, competition between armed groups, porous borders, trafficking of all sorts: the Member States of the European Union are concerned at the highest level about the chaos prevailing in Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. They are investing hundreds of millions of euros to try to stop disturbances extending to the entire region, which is already unstable. To prevent migrants arriving on European shores, they are trying to block them upstream."
The article is behind a paywall, but Mediapart have made freely available a restricted 239-page EU document outlining the 'Revised Draft Concept of Operations "Plus" (CONOPS PLUS) for the CSDP [Common Security and Defence Policy] Mission EUBAM [EU Border Assistance Mission] Libya' (pdf).
It appears that this is the same document on which a recent EUobserver article was based, which revealed that EUBAM Libya "is in fact training paramilitary forces, amid a wider European and US effort to stop Libya becoming a "failed state".'
Officials quoted by EUobserver played down concerns that the supposedly "civilian" border management mission in fact had a significant military dimension.
Michael Mann, spokesperson for the European External Action Service, said:
"The mission is supporting all border management related agencies and is providing advice and support on border management related issues, not on military tasks."
He continued by saying that Libya "specifically requested the support of a civilian mission, not a military one, regardless of their internal organisational arrangements". Libya's Border Guards and Naval Coast Guard, which are being trained as part of the mission, are both part of Libya's defence ministry.
The EU's Common Security and Defence Policy is, according to Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty, "an integral part of the common foreign and security policy" aimed at providing the EU "with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets" which can be used for "peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security".
It is clear that migration is an increasing area of interest to those responsible for CSDP policy. EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton recently said that the EU's Border Assistance Mission in Libya "is the first CSDP mission fully devoted to border management", noting that "border security is an integral part of the EU's security" and that it is "in the EU's interest to build the capacities of third States to control their own territory, manage flows of people and goods and address their respective security challenges".
A more recent paper issued by the EEAS considers the possibility of the EU launching a military operation aimed at combating illegal immigration and human trafficking in the Mediterranean which would offer "increased intelligence gathering and an increased situation awareness and overall reaction capacity".
However, the paper notes that there would be:
"significant legal and political challenges, including on the appropriateness of using a (military) CSDP operation in the area of migration and asylum".
German MP Andrej Hunko has issued a response to the EEAS paper saying that "using the Navy and Air Force to combat migration would be an inconceivable militarisation of EU policy on refugees".
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