European Union and Libyan officials held a “very constructive meeting” in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday discussing the current situation in Libya, as well as a proposed naval mission in the Mediterranean intended to use military force to stop boats and “human smugglers” trafficking people into Europe.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met with Libya’s House of Representatives’ (HoR) foreign minister Mohamed al-Dayri, Italy’s foreign minister Paola Gentiloni and Britain’s foreign secretary Philip Hammond to discuss the current situation and mainly focus on negotiations to gain Libya’s consent to go forward with the proposed naval mission.
The HoR is currently refusing to give consent for the naval mission, stating that the European governments had discussed it with Libya’s alleged militias, referring to the Tripoli-based central General National Council (GNC).
On May 19, GNC special envoy Nuri Bait Almal was sent to the EU to discuss the proposed naval operation, stating that “we are looking forward for an early engagement with the European leaders.”
A statement released by European Union External Actions following the meeting said that “The meeting…took place in the context of the preparations of the maritime operation EUNAVFOR MED, which will focus on dismantling the business model of those involved in human smuggling.”
The statement also said that “The meeting was very constructive and contacts with Libyans, the UN and key partners in the region will continue.”
Inner turmoil in Libya, which began with the HoR’s attempted forced closure of the GNC in August, has made it a hub for immigrant entry from Africa and the Middle East into Europe as the two rival parliaments feud for control of the country, leaving internal matters such as immigration in disarray.
The GNC holds greater influence in Libya's internal affairs and economic institutions than the rival House of Representatives (HoR). However the HoR has enjoyed a greater audience from some members of the international community as ongoing UN peace talks aim to unify the two bodies.
EU foreign and defence ministers agreed on the naval mission, which would involve destroying boats of smugglers completing the voyage to Europe, at a meeting in Brussels in Belgium on May 18.
The current situation in the Mediterranean has left the EU alarmed, forcing it to take action after more than 800 migrants died in an overcrowded vessel which capsized on April 19.
Over 1,850 people have died in deadly attempts to reach Europe by sea this year.
The United Nations refugee agency estimated that close to 40,000 people arrived on Italian shores between the start of the year and May.