Increased surveillance in the Med and policing Libya's southern border
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On Thursday there will be an Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Malta under the Maltese Council Presidency. Among the issues under discussion will be the latest attempt to end the movement of refugees into Libya and then on to Italy. This is set out in a Joint Communication from the Commission and the EEAS (European External Action Service): Migration on the Central Mediterranean route: Managing flows, saving lives (JOIN 4-17,pdf)
While Commission President Juncker recognises that: "First and foremost, stability in Libya and the region as a whole is required" most plans are already known. Two new initiatives are speeding up the introduction of the "Seahorse Mediterranean Network" and using the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission to strengthen Libya's southern border controls. Managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route Commission contributes to Malta discussion (Press release, pdf)
Seahorse Mediterranean Network
This programme involves:
"the Seahorse Mediterranean Network programme, aiming to strengthen Libyan border surveillance and implemented by seven Member States, with the Spanish Guardia Civil in the lead. This should now be stepped up so that complementary action means that the full range of needs identified can be met"
The seven EU Member states taking part are: Spain, Italy, Malta, France, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal. A first priority is to make the Seahorse Mediterranean Network operational in spring 2017:
"Using the satellite-supported communication infrastructure of the Seahorse Mediterranean Network, to be established this year, the Libyan Coast Guard will be able to exchange information on incidents and coordinate patrolling and rescue activities with the coast guards of neighbouring countries, making a major contribution to rescue operations. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency will support this cooperation with regular monitoring and surveillance information"
"Italy, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, France, Spain and Portugal have connected their Eurosur national coordination centres for border surveillance to the Seahorse Mediterranean Network. Work is underway to ensure that the Libyan Coast Guard has the equipment it needs to connect with Member States, so that all will be able to inform each other about incidents in near-real time, and coordinate their patrolling activities."
Policing Libya's southern border
Key to this move will be the:
"Supply of technologies, vehicles and other means should also be envisaged to improve the control of the land border between Libya and the neighbouring countries."
"There are a variety of EU efforts, in particular the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and projects deployed across the region, which contribute in addressing this challenge.... The EU's contribution to migration management to the South of Libya includes support to security and defence capacity building"
This will be backed up by:
"the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community, which provides a framework for regular knowledge and intelligence sharing in the field of border security, and could develop risk analysis and deploy short-term missions to identify migration routes and possible shifts, with a possible support of satellite images."
The underlying problem the EU has is that there is not a stable government or state agencies in place with whom it can work. This week the European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told the European Parliament's civil liberties committee that; "we are far from being able to say that we have succeeded in entering into discussion with them". He confirmed that on the ground the situation is "very complicated to manage".
Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
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