Documents considered by the Committee on 4 May 2016 Contents

8Restrictive measures and Libya

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny

Document details

(a) Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/478 of 31 March 2016 amending Decision (CFSP) 2015/1333 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya; (b) Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/466 of 31 March 2016 implementing Article 21(2) of Regulation (EU) 2016/44 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya

Legal base

(a) Article 29; unanimity (b) Article 21(2) of Council Regulation (EU) 2016/44; QMV


Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Document Numbers

(a) (37639), —; (b) (37640), —

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

8.1Since the end of the 2011 civil war, Libya has been awash with militia and state sponsored armed groups who had originally helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. The National Transitional Council (NTC), a rebel leadership council which had fought to oust the Gaddafi government, declared Libya “liberated” in October 2011 and took over the running of the country. However, it struggled to impose order on the many armed militia that had become active in the months leading up to the ouster of Gaddafi.

8.2In August 2012 the NTC handed power to the General National Congress (GNC), an elected parliament which went on to select an interim head of state. Voters chose a new parliament to replace the GNC in June 2014—the Council of Representatives (CoR), which relocated to the eastern city of Tobruk, leaving Tripoli controlled by powerful militia groups. Extremist militia took advantage of the conflict between forces loyal to the outgoing GNC and the new parliament to gain control of several coastal cities, including Derna and Sirte.

8.3On 17 December 2015, in Skhirat, a United Nations-brokered agreement was signed on forming a national unity government, headed by unity Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj. At that time, Martin Kobler, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), cautioned that: “We must not forget that this is the beginning of a difficult journey”; noted “a critical need for national reconciliation and an inclusive national security dialogue”; added that “Urgent solutions must be found to bolster the Libyan-led fight against terrorism and in particular the threat of Da’esh [also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL]”; and noted that the “dire humanitarian situation in Benghazi and other areas needs to be addressed as a matter of highest priority, including through the establishment of a dedicated reconstruction fund for Benghazi”.27

8.4Both Tripoli and Tobruk administrations were reluctant to acknowledge the unity government’s authority. Mr Sarraj and some of his deputies finally arrived in Tripoli on 31 March 2016 and set up their headquarters in a heavily-guarded naval base.28

The Council Decision and the Council Implementing Regulation

8.5Within this context, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) explains that this Council Decision amends Council Decision 2015/1333, and this Council Implementing Regulation amends Council Regulation (EU) No. 2016/44, thereby extending the list of those subject to an EU-wide asset freeze and travel ban to include:

8.6The Minister further explains that these restrictive measures have been applied to these additional three persons for engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of Libya and for obstructing and undermining Libya’s political transition to a Government of National Accord.

8.7The Minister separately explains that the measures were adopted on 31 March 2016, and published in the Official Journal on 1 April 2016.The Minister regrets that, “due to the fast-moving pace of events on the ground in Libya, and the need to agree sanctions at short notice”, he found himself having to agree to their adoption before the Committee had an opportunity to scrutinise the documents.

8.8These measures might not in and of themselves have warranted drawing to the attention of the House in other circumstances. But we are doing so now because they come at a crucial time for Libya’s political development. Prime Minister Sarraj has received strong support from both the Government and the EU (see “Background” for details). These measures are thus clearly part of their endeavours both to sustain his internationally-recognised government and constrain those who seek to undermine it. It is equally plain that—with the EU’s border assistance mission largely in limbo since 2013 and its naval, anti-people smuggling operation limited to operating in international waters until invited by a Libyan government to operation inshore—much hangs in the balance so far as both existing and prospective EU support is concerned.

8.9In the meantime, we now clear the documents from scrutiny.

8.10In the circumstances and on this occasion, we do not take issue with the Minister having overridden scrutiny.

8.11We also accept the Minister’s apology for the late submission of his Explanatory Memorandum, and assume that he has taken the necessary steps to ensure that the oversight by his officials to which he attributes it, does not recur.

Full details of the documents

(a) Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/478 of 31 March 2016 amending Decision (CFSP) 2015/1333 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya: (37639), —; (b) Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/466 of 31 March 2016 implementing Article 21(2) of Regulation (EU) 2016/44 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya: (37640), —.


8.12On 19 March 2016, following a discussion with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, the Foreign Secretary (Mr Philip Hammond) said:

“The Government of National Accord (GNA) is the only legitimate government in Libya, endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council. The GNA needs to start work in Tripoli as soon as the security situation allows. It must take control of security forces and financial institutions to deliver the peace and stability that the Libyan people deserve. I have today assured Prime Minister Fayez Serraj of the UK’s full support.

“Libya is facing a series of difficult challenges, including the fight against Daesh, people traffickers and restoring vital public services. The UK and the international community stand ready to help the GNA.”29

8.13On 18 April, following a Foreign Affairs Council meeting, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR; Federica Mogherini) said that, via a video conference, Prime Minister Serraj had shared his assessment on the political, security and economic situation with “all the 28 EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs plus the ones of Defence”; the Council had “also started discussing the priorities in terms of our support to the Libyan authorities in different fields”; and had adopted conclusions in which Council:

“welcome the arrival of the Presidency Council in Tripoli;…underline the Libyan ownership of the political process and the importance of it to be inclusive and…reaffirm our readiness to support the Government of National Accord (GNA) at its request in different fields”;

“reiterated that the European Union considers the GNA as the sole legitimate government in Libya and among other things, we urge the House of Representatives and other institutions to fulfil the roles assigned to them under the Libyan Political Agreement”; and

“reiterated our commitment to provide a package of immediate and substantial measures in support of the GNA and the Libyan people totalling €100m in a number of different areas as I mentioned to you before and that we are also ready to help the GNA in managing migration and asylum, in close coordination with UNHCR and IOM.”30

8.14The HR went on to say:

“We are also ready to offer security sector support in response to possible GNA requests, including possible civilian CSDP mission that could support Libyan efforts inter alia through advice and capacity building in the fields of police and criminal justice including on counter-terrorism, border management, countering irregular migration and smuggling of migrants and trafficking of human beings, as part of broader Security Sector Reform support.

“This possible mission could draw upon the existing planning capacity of EUBAM Libya that as you know has been there for quite some time.31 In addition to the possible civilian mission, further consideration will also be given to support that can be provided through [EUNAVFOR MED] Operation Sophia,32 by enhancing its capacity to disrupt the business model of human smugglers and trafficking networks and to contribute to broader security in support to the legitimate Libyan authorities, for example through possible capacity building for the Libyan Coastguards. Let me also stress that we reiterated that we will ensure that all our support is guaranteeing full Libyan ownership—this is an issue that we stressed very much with Prime Minister [Fayez] al-Sarraj and will be coordinated and coherent with other international support under the overall coordination of UNSMIL. We know very well that we need not only to guarantee that the support is given, but also to support that it is given in a coordinated way.”33

8.15The Council Decision and Council Implementing Regulation are explained above.

The Government’s view

8.16In his Explanatory Memorandum of 28 April 2016, the Minister comments on the Council Decision and Council Implementing Regulation as follows:

“GNC ‘PM’ Ghwell and ‘President’ Abu Sahmain have led hard-line opposition in Tripoli and the West against the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in Skhirat on 17 December 2015. They have obstructed the new internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) from being established in Tripoli, and are a dangerous threat to the resolution of the political and security crisis in Libya. House of Representatives (HoR) President Agila Saleh has actively worked to undermine a vote taking place in the HoR to endorse the GNA, even though a majority of 101 MPs in the HoR have publicly declared their support for the GNA. Details of their actions are expanded upon in the ‘Statements of Reasons’.

“The UK fully supports these EU listings against individuals who have actively attempted to obstruct and undermine the Libyan Political Agreement, agreed by a majority of the Libyan negotiating parties. This action needed to be pursued quickly following the Shkirat agreement, as the GNA began to assert its authority against the background of a fragile and rapidly shifting political and security situation. Sanctions are in place in order to affect changes in behaviour—if the individuals concerned stand with the Libyan people in support of the GNA, instead of opposing and threatening the peace process, consideration could be given to lifting the sanctions.”

The Minister’s letter of 28 April 2106

8.17See paragraphs 8.7 and 8.11 above.

Previous Committee Reports


27 See UN welcomes ‘historic’ signing of Libyan Political Agreement.

28 See the BBC’s Libya country profile and Chief of Libya’s new UN-backed government arrives in Tripoli in The Guardian of 31 March 2016.

31 The EU Integrated Border Management Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya) was deployed in May 2013 with the aim of supporting the Libyan authorities in improving and developing the security of the country’s borders. Due to the political and security situation in Libya, EUBAM has been operating from Tunisia since August 2014, and because of the limited possibilities to advise, mentor and train its Libyan counterparts, was downsized to 17 international mission members last October. With this limited capacity, the Mission has continued to support the Libyan Customs and Naval Coast Guard through workshops and seminars organised outside Libya.

33 See Council conclusions on Libya for the full text.

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10 May 2016