Stable Libya more important than ever, draft final EC d

Strengthening local coast guard, combating trafficking priorities

31 January, 20:25

    BRUSSELS - Efforts to stabilise Libya are more important than ever, according to a draft final statement for the informal European Council summit in Malta on Friday circulating Tuesday. The 28 EU member states are "determined to carry out additional action to slow down the (migration) flow along the central Mediterranean route", the document read.

    Long-term efforts based on migration compacts "are giving results and will be intensified", it added.

    However, the "urgency of the situation" along the route to Italy "requires immediate additional operative measures" based on the proposal by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. On a political level, the statement says the "EU remains committed to the full emancipation of the government of national accord as part of an inclusive government backed by the United Nations".

    Top priority is given to "training, equipping and supporting the Libyan coast guard" via programmes "that need to be rapidly reinforced".

    This is followed by combating human trafficking, supporting the economic development of local communities particularly in coastal and border areas, boosting migrant reception facilities in partnership with UNHCR and IOM and ensuring the latter's support in increasing assisted voluntary returns. The statement also makes reference to "support for existing initiatives by member states in Libya directly" and to deepening dialogue with neighbouring countries to prevent other routes from opening up.

    In addition, it alludes to the need to "identify potential obstacles" to voluntary returns and suggests further exploring the issues linked to talks on reforming the common European asylum system. Diplomatic sources say Italy is insisting on a clear statement to the effect that this system must be based on the principles of solidarity and responsibility, rather than continuing to let this fall on the countries of first arrival. The statement calls on the Maltese duty presidency to present the Council with a detailed roadmap for reform as soon as possible. (ANSAmed).

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