61 Integrated Border Management Assistance
Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya)|
|Committee's decision||Cleared from scrutiny (decision reported on 14 May 2014); further information requested
|Document details||Council Decision providing for six-month mandate extension
|Legal base||Articles 28, 42(4) and 43(2) TEU; unanimity
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Summary and Committee's conclusions
61.1 EUBAM Libya (the European Union Integrated Border Management
Assistance Mission in Libya) was established in May 2013, with
a two-year mandate. The aim is to support the Libyan authorities
to develop capacity for enhancing the security of their borders
in the short term and a broader Integrated Border Management (IBM)
strategy in the longer term. The total two-year cost is 56.5
million (£40.1 million).
61.2 Despite the dire security situation, which was
far worse than when it was set up in May 2013, the European External
Action Service (EEAS) nonetheless proposed in May 2014 a two-year
extension, until Spring 2017. Instead, the Mission was down-sized
in August 2014 and the residue relocated to neighbouring Tunis;
and the EEAS began a further Review.
61.3 Last autumn, the Minister for Europe (Mr David
Lidington) reported that the Review was to "be released"
in December and "formally considered in January", with
"a final decision on the future of the mission being taken
in February". The options included mission closure (one for
which the previous Committee had pressed): but it also included
others (including putting it in "sleeper" mode, in which
EUBAM Rafah has been for the past seven years[ 449]).
He undertook to write with more details on the future of this
mission "once this document has been discussed".
61.4 The previous Committee noted the systemic reluctance
to contemplate closing a mission because of subsequent unfavourable
developments; the consequential wider implications of the outcome
of this review; and the Minister's oft-professed commitment to
enhanced scrutiny of CFSP; and said that it would be important
that it had an opportunity to consider the likely findings, and
that it therefore expected to hear further from him in January,
and well before any final decision was taken.[ 450]
61.5 This draft Council decision extends the mandate
of EUBAM Libya by a further six months, from 21 May 2015 to 21
November 2015. Mission activities will be funded by the existing
"Year 2" budget of 26,200,000 (£18,605,000)
which will now cover the period 22 May 2014 to 21 November 2015.
61.6 The Minister for Europe recalls that in October
2014, the mission began down-sizing from 57 to a core team of
17, and explains that:
Political and Security Committee (PSC) discussions on 14 January
2015 in which Member States indicated support for suspension of
EUBAM Libya, the mission was directed to cease planning on all
training capacity delivery;
on 17 February, the PSC decided that
the mission should further down-size, from 17 staff to 3, by 31
and the mission is now "on hold".
61.7 The Minister explains that the 21 April Foreign
Affairs Council considered the future of EUBAM in the context
of wider discussions on Libya, and:
the background of the options for EUBAM within the ISR, Member
States were divided;
some pushed for closure, while others
argued that this would send the wrong message about the extent
of the EU's intentions at a time when the EU was looking to support
a possible Government of National Unity;
the Foreign Secretary accepted the finally-agreed
compromise option, whereby the mission should continue with a
six month mandate, whilst remaining in its current suspended state;
before the mandate expiry on 21 November
2015, Member States will reconsider the mission's future against
the background of developments in the political and security situation;
and the EU's wider strategy to address the migration issue in
the Mediterranean; and
this short-term extension will "allow
the EU to progress thinking on appropriate action to support Libya
and enable us to take a more considered view on the long-term
future of EUBAM".
61.8 The Minister also notes:
"UN-led negotiations to agree a Libyan political
settlement are at a crucial point. UN SRSG Leon[ 451]
issued his fourth/final draft of the agreement on 8 June. Only
a stable and representative Government of National Accord (GNA)
can deal with the political and security challenges that Libya
faces, including control of its borders. However, if the process
drags on, migration [and terrorist] threats will continue to worsen.
The UK and international partners are working to urge both sides
to come to an agreement. We, the EU and wider international community
are prepared to support a GNA in confronting Libya's challenges."
61.9 We deal elsewhere with other EU responses
to "the political and security challenges that Libya faces,
including control of its borders", which in the CSDP context
means the new EU naval operation, EUNAVFOR Med. In our separate
Report on this mission and the Commission's proposals for dealing
with the illegal immigrants who make it to Europe's shores, we
are recommending that both be debated on the floor of the House.
That will give the House an early opportunity to question the
Government about the prospects for the sine qua non for
progress in all of these areas, i.e., a Government of National
Accord in Libya.
61.10 Looking further ahead, there are clear parallels
here with the EU's other border assistance, EUBAM Rafah, whose
latest mandate extension we consider elsewhere in this Report.[ 452]
That mission has now been "in its current suspended state"
since 2007, essentially because it has always been decided at
each juncture that ending the mission "would send the wrong
message about the extent of the EU's intentions". The obvious
danger is that EUBAM Libya is now on that same road, with the
outcome of the November review essentially pre-determined, i.e.,
in limbo until a GNA is formed. We therefore ask that the Minister
informs the Committee as soon as it returns from the Conference
recess, i.e., by 8 October, about the EEAS' and his latest thinking
in relation to whatever the situation on the ground and future
prospects for a GNA then are.
61.11 In the meantime, we now clear the draft
61.12 Though the Minister makes no mention of
his having overridden scrutiny, in the circumstances there
being no Committee at that time we do not take issue with
his having done so.
details of the documents:
Council Decision amending
and extending Council Decision 2013/233/CFSP on the European Union
Integrated Border Management Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM
Libya): (36822), .
61.13 Council Decision 2013/233/CFSP of May 2013
established this civilian CSDP Mission, the European Union Integrated
Border Management Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya). The
mission's mandate was for 24 months. It would consist of up to
165 people (at full operational capability). The aim is to support
the Libyan authorities to develop capacity for enhancing the security
of their borders in the short term and a broader Integrated Border
Management (IBM) strategy in the longer term. The mission would:
support Libyan authorities, through training and mentoring, in
strengthening the border services in accordance with international
standards and best practices; advise the Libyan authorities on
the development of a Libyan national IBM strategy; and support
the Libyan authorities in strengthening their institutional operational
61.14 The budget for the first year of the mission
was 30,300,000 (£21,525,000). A further Council Decision
set out a budget of 26,200,000 (£18,608,000) covering
the period 22 May 2014 to 21 May 2015, i.e., the second year of
EUBAM Libya's two-year mandate.
61.15 When the previous Committee considered that
draft Council Decision on 14 May 2014, it noted that the latest
Commons Library Standard Note on Libya of 11 April 2014 said that,
since the end of the 2011 civil war, Libya had been awash with
militia and state sponsored armed groups who, having originally
helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, were now reluctant to disarm
and were intent on grabbing a share of power and the country's
immense oil wealth; and who, in the face of a weak and disparate
government, had taken the place of an effective army and police
force, and also dispensed aid and humanitarian assistance to a
beleaguered population.[ 453]
61.16 This wider background underlined the importance
of an EEAS Strategic Review of the Mission, about which the Minister
said he was unable to provide any information because, despite
pressing it to do so, the EEAS had yet to release it.
61.17 The previous Committee concluded that, given
that the mission was already to cost over 50 million, with
little prospect of any sustainability, the question must arise
as to whether the EU should cut its losses unless there was a
dramatic change over the next 12 months.[ 454]
61.18 On 28 August 2014, the Minister reported that
EUBAM Libya had decided on 4 August to withdraw staff from Libya
due to the security situation: the core staff had temporarily
relocated to Tunis and a small number were temporarily co-located
with the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels.
This, he said, was against a background in which fighting had
escalated, particularly in Tripoli and Benghazi, which had closed
the main international airport in Tripoli and led to the majority
of the diplomatic community, including the UK, closing their Embassies
and withdrawing staff. The political situation remained equally
uncertain: after "relatively peaceful elections" on
25 June, a new House of Representatives had been sitting in Tobruk,
due to the security situation in Tripoli: but not all members
had taken up their seats, and some members of the expired General
National Congress had convened sessions in Tripoli, declaring
it as the sole legislative authority.
61.19 In its response, the previous Committee reminded
the Minister of the outstanding request in its previous Report.
61.20 The Minister then wrote on 3 October 2014,
to say that the Strategic Review had in fact come out at the end
of May, and had recommended that the mission be extended for two
years: however, discussions on this proposal had then been "overtaken
by events in Libya". The deterioration of the political and
security situation meant that, despite the holding of UN sponsored
peace talks on 29 September, EUBAM Libya was unlikely to be able
to return to Libya in the immediate future; he had therefore agreed
to support an EEAS proposal to downsize it as soon as possible
from a full Mission to a core team of 17-20 staff, working from
Tunis, pending a second Strategic Review; this "should assess
all possible options, including closure, for the future of the
mission and is due to take place before the end of the year".
61.21 The Minister then reported in early December
2014 that he expected a review document "to be released"
that month and "to be formally considered in January",
with "a final decision on the future of the mission being
taken in February". The Review would:
"set out conditions for the potential return
of the mission as well as presenting the pros and cons of options
for the future of the mission, including: maintaining the mission
as it currently is; putting the mission into "sleeper mode"
with the capacity to re-start operations quickly when the situation
in Libya becomes more permissive; closing the mission; and re-location
of the mission to either Tunisia or Egypt, with more of a containment
focus working with their national authorities."
61.22 The Minister undertook to write with more details
on the future of this mission "once this document has been
The Minister's Explanatory Memorandum of 19 June
61.23 The Minister confirms that this Council Decision
was adopted by the 21 May 2015 Foreign Affairs Council.
The Government's view
61.24 The Minister says that, unfortunately, publication
of the EEAS Interim Strategic Review (ISR) was delayed to allow
for discussions on Libya at the Foreign Affairs Council meetings
in February and March; and presentation by the EEAS of a revised
Political Framework for Crisis Approach (PFCA) on 10 April, which
outlined options for EU support to a National Unity Government
(NUG) in Libya:
"By the time the Interim Strategic Review (ISR)
was finally released on 13 April, Parliament had dissolved for
the election. I was therefore unable to inform the Scrutiny Committees
of the findings, as intended."
61.25 Turning to the Strategic Review itself,
the Minister says:
The ISR noted that key conditions for a successful mission had
not been met: political transition and a stable security situation.
Against this background, delivery of EUBAM's mandate had been
extremely difficult and the mission has not achieved its objectives.
Following relocation to Tunis, the mission operated at a reduced
capacity, with the majority of staff initially working remotely
from Europe. Mission activity focused on contingency planning
by senior management. Regional planning and liaison visits to
EUCAP Sahel Niger[ 455]
and EUBAM Rafah enabled the mission to provide regional expertise
and advice on border management. EUBAM Libya maintained limited
contact with key Libyan border management officials, but this
was hampered by uncertainties surrounding political allegiances.
At an operational level, strengthening of border management capacity
via the provision of advice, mentoring and training stopped due
to the political and security conditions. A limited series of
study visits was undertaken in Europe for customs and naval coastguard
personnel, which concluded in January 2015. However, the mission
is unable to achieve key objectives identified in the last strategic
review to co-locate advisers in key ministries; and develop Libya's
Maritime Search & Rescue and Customs organisations.
In addition to the issues I have noted, the ISR also mentions
a number of other considerations that have arisen as a result
of relocation to Tunis:
a. "The Mission's legal status in Tunis
is still unclear, with the Tunisian authorities indicating unofficially
that they would prefer not to explore this issue;
b. "Additional security concerns in light
of the terrorist attack in Tunis on 18 March;
c. "Remote presence makes it difficult for
EUBAM to assess conditions and support UNSMIL;
d. "Down-sizing has reduced expertise and
corporate knowledge and could limit the mission's ability to reactivate
quickly, should conditions be conducive.
61.26 "Options: The ISR highlighted a
number of options for EUBAM:
the mission's current 'on hold' status for one year.
of activities via a phased approach and planning refresh."
61.27 The Minister then outlines Recent Decisions/Developments
"At the FAC on 21 April, Member States considered
the future of EUBAM in the context of wider discussions on Libya.
Against the background of the options for EUBAM within the ISR,
Member States were divided. Some pushed for closure, while others
argued that this would send the wrong message about the extent
of the EU's intentions at a time when the EU was looking to support
a possible Government of National Unity. Member States finally
agreed on a compromise option whereby the mission should continue
with a short four to six month extension to the mandate
an approach to which the Foreign Secretary gave his support. Subsequently,
on 21 April the PSC agreed on a six month extension, with
the mission remaining in its current suspended state. In advance
of the forthcoming expiry of the mandate on 21 November, Member
States will reconsider the mission's future against the background
of developments in the political and security situation; and the
EU's wider strategy to address the migration issue in the Mediterranean.
We judge that this short-term extension will allow the EU to progress
thinking on appropriate action to support Libya and enable us
to take a more considered view on the long-term future of EUBAM.
"UN-led negotiations to agree a Libyan political
settlement are at a crucial point. UN SRSG Leon issued his fourth/final
draft of the agreement on 8 June. Only a stable and representative
Government of National Accord (GNA) can deal with the political
and security challenges that Libya faces, including control of
its borders. However, if the process drags on, migration [and
terrorist] threats will continue to worsen. The UK and international
partners are working to urge both sides to come to an agreement.
We, the EU and wider international community are prepared to support
a GNA in confronting Libya's challenges."
Previous Committee Reports
None, but see (35995), : Twenty-fifth Report
HC 219-xxiv (2014-15), chapter 13 (10 December 2014), Fifteenth
Report HC 219-xv (2014-15), chapter 10 (22 October 2014)
and Fiftieth Report HC 83-xlv (2013-14), chapter 14 (14
May 2014); also see (34875), : Third Report HC 83-iii (2013-14),
chapter 25 (21May 2013) and First Report HC 83-i (2013-14),
chapter 10 (8 May 2013).
449 The European Union Border Assistance Mission at
the Rafah Crossing Point - code name EUBAM Rafah - was launched
on 24 November 2005, to monitor the operations of the border crossing
point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, after Israel and the Palestinian
Authority concluded an Agreement on Movement and Access on 15
November 2005. The Rafah Crossing Point was last opened with
the presence of EUBAM monitors on 9 June 2007. Since then, the
mission has remained on standby, awaiting a political solution. Back
450 See (35995), -: Twenty-fifth Report HC 219-xxiv (2014-15), chapter
13 (10 December 2014). Back
451 On 14 August 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
appointed Bernardino León (onetime EU Special Representative
to the Southern Mediterranean) as his Special Representative and
Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Back
452 See Council Decision amending Council Decision 2013/354/CFSP on
the European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories
(EUPOL COPPS): (36913) -, and Council Decision amending Joint
Action 2005/889/CFSP on establishing a European Union Border Assistance
Mission for the Rafah Crossing Point (EU BAM Rafah): (36927) -,
at chapter 67 of this Report. Back
453 See Commons Library Standard Note on Libya of 11 April 2014. Back
454 See Fiftieth Report HC 83-xlv (2013-14), chapter 14 (14 May 2014).
For the full background to, and the Committee's consideration
of, the establishment of this mission, see (34875),-: Third Report
HC 83-iii (2013-14), chapter 25 (21May 2013) and First Report
HC 83-i (2013-14), chapter 10 (8 May 2013). Back
455 The crisis in Mali, instability in Libya and Boko Haram terrorism
in Nigeria are all threatening Niger's security and development.
In addition, the country is faced with the illegal trafficking
of drugs, weapons and people on its territory. Some of this organised
crime serves to fund terrorist groups which are using Niger's
vast desert regions as trafficking routes or safe havens. Established
in August 2012, EUCAP Sahel Niger contributes to the development
of an integrated, coherent, sustainable, and human rights-based
approach among the various Nigerien security agencies in the fight
against terrorism and organised crime. See EEAS factsheet on
EUCAP Sahel Niger for full information. Back