European Union Committee
Operation Sophia, the EU’s naval mission in the Mediterranean: an impossible challenge

14th Report of Session 2015-16 - published 13 May 2016 - HL Paper 144



Chapter 1: The inception of Operation Sophia

A common security and defence policy mission.

The mandate of Operation Sophia

Structure of the report

Chapter 2: The challenge of mass migration

An era of mass migration

Migration into Europe

Figure 1: Migrant routes into Europe in 2014 and 2015

Conclusions and recommendations

Chapter 3: Assessment of Operation Sophia

Modus operandi of human smuggling

Business model

Modus operandi

The smuggling operation out of Libya

Composition of the mission

Assessment criteria

Military strategic objectives in Phase 1

Military strategic objectives in Phase 2A (high seas)

Arresting smugglers

Destruction of boats

Tackling the smuggling networks

Deterring migrant flows

Search and rescue at sea

Conclusions and recommendations

Chapter 4: Considerations for the next phases

The next phases

The Libyan political context

Judicial process in Libyan territorial waters

Co-ordination with other actors: Frontex and NATO

Figure 2: Naval operations to combat irregular migration on the EU’s borders

Frontex—Operation Triton

Box 1: Operation Triton

NATO mission in the Aegean

Box 2: NATO mission in the Aegean

Relations with NGOs

A further step: supporting the Libyan coastguard?

Conclusions and recommendations

Chapter 5: The bigger picture

Tackling the root causes of migration

Supporting transit and host countries


Processing claims outside the EU


Tackling illicit financial flows

Devising a new migration policy: political leadership and public debate

Conclusions and recommendations

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and declarations of interest

Appendix 2: List of witnesses

Evidence is published online at and available for inspection at the Parliamentary Archives (020 7219 3074).

Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence

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