By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 17 July 2017:
The EU is pressing member states to limit the sale of inflatable dinghies and outboard motors to Libya in an effort to disrupt the business of people-smugglers.
Member states now have a legal basis to “prevent the export of supply of these goods to Libya where are reasonable grounds to believe that they will be used by people smugglers and human traffickers”.
The decision by the EU’s foreign affairs council follows a call by Malta’s Prime Minister last month to crack down on the sale of dinghies and motorboats to Libya. Joseph Muscat said such a measure would send a “strong message” and could be put into place “quickly”.
However, the new measures will not apply to civilians legitimately using inflatable dinghies or outboard motors – despite some Libyan fisherman occasionally appearing to be complicit in the smuggling.
The council also “underlined the importance” of Operation Sophia and its efforts to disrupt the migrant trafficking trade in the Mediterranean.
There is clearly annoyance at the UK’s House of Lords finding last week that Sophia that was a failure and should not be renewed, a view echoed yesterday by Belgian migration minister Theo Francken who called the mission a lunacy.
The EU also welcomed the appointment of Ghassan Salamé as the UN’s new special envoy to Libya. It once again underlined its support for the Libyan Political Agreement and the Presidency Council.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini insisted that Libya had the resources to extract itself from the current crisis and impasse.