EU foreign ministers agreed this week to extend Operation ‘Sophia’ by a year and to add two tasks to its mandate: training Libyan coastguards and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas. The EU naval operation Sophia was launched last year to disrupt the business model of people smugglers in the Mediterranean.
“This was extremely well received by the Ministers,” Mogherini told the media after the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, which she chaired. “The European Union will continue to prepare the ground and facilitate contacts at a trilateral level and we will accompany this also with our CSDP presence in the region of Sahel, but also our work with the Libyan authorities and also obviously with Operation Sophia at sea.”
Ministers also backed the initiative of High Representative Federica Mogherini to launch a trilateral dialogue between Libya, Niger and Chad on joint border management of the southern border of Libya, which presents many challenges, both in terms of migration and security issues.
The legitimate Libyan authorities requested support in capacity building and training of their Coast Guard and Navy and established a dedicated committee of experts to work with EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia. The objective is to enhance their capability to disrupt smuggling and trafficking in Libya and to perform search and rescue activities which will save lives and improve security in the Libyan territorial waters. The training is taking place on board of two EUNAVFOR MED assets on the high seas for 78 embarked trainees and their mentors. The initial training package comprises various models, ranging from basic seamanship to more advanced specialist skills and includes a substantial focus on human rights and international law. This task will be financed through voluntary contributions from some EU member states managed by the Athena mechanism, and from voluntary assets and personnel contribution provided by the Member States.
EUNAVFOR MED operation ‘Sophia’ was launched on 22 June 2015.