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This case study focuses on the events after the fall of the Ghaddafi regime in 2011.

Libya is currently partially integrated in the EUs policy for the Southern
Mediterranean as it has observer status in the Barcelona Process and in the Union
for the Mediterranean but it is not part of the European Neighbourhood Policy and it
does not have an Association Agreement with the EU. It is currently undergoing civil
war and does not have a stable government.
The reason why this choice is topical is because the Implementing Decision on the
Annual Action Programme 2016 (part 2) for Libya has been adopted on the 28 th of
November 2016 and because the scope of EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA,
CSDP operation off the coast of Libya, has been expanded and acknowledged in the
December 15th European Council conclusions. I present the overall situation in Libya
and focus on the CSDP operation through the lens of structural diplomacy process
of dialogue and negotiation by which actors in the international system seek to
influence or shape sustainable political, legal, economic, social, and security
structures at different levels in a given geographical space and of a decentred
Briefly, the European Union has embarked on a state-building exercise in Libya with
emphasis on improving education, civil society, public administration, the health
system, security, economic development, protection of vulnerable people,
democratic governance, and preventing migration, of which democratic governance
appears to be most salient. It has developed two programmes outlining its
relationship with Libya: National Indicative Programme 2011-2013 (signed while
Ghaddafi was still in power) and National Indicative Programme 2014-2016. The
most recent implementing decision approves 6.4 million in grants for a programme
supporting public financial management and media development. The Commission
exercises indirect management of this grant-based funding, which is used by the
World Bank respectively Deutsche Welle, a German media company. In other words,
the European Commission provides financial support to a trust fund to which other
actors contribute, namely UK DFID, Deutsche Welle and other donors. This financing
comes entirely from the European Neighbourhood Instrument. Although Libya is not
part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, it is eligible to be financed through ENI.
The UN Special Mission for Libya is responsible for the overall coordination of donor
activity in Libya and the EU Delegation in Libya (currently re-located due to internal
turmoil) acts as a coordinator on behalf of the European Union.
Furthermore, the European Union operates two missions in Libya: EUBAM Libya a
2013 CSDP mission to enhance short-term border security and EUNAVFOR MED
Operation Sophia a 2015 operation aimed at dismantling smuggler networks and
enhancing Libyas border control to prevent migration. The most recent development
is the publishing of the European Council conclusions of the 15 th of December 2016
on Libya which mention the need for enhanced cooperation for the training and
support of the Libyan coastguard including through EUNAVFOR MED Operation
Sophia, which had entered into this specific second phase in September 2016.
EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA was launched on the 22 nd of June 2015 as a
CSDP operation through Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/972 pursuant to Council
Decision (CFSP) 2015/778 and is headquartered in Rome, Italy. This was a
response to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea and aimed at cracking
down on human smugglers. Its mandate was extended to capacity building and
training the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy and implementing an arms embargo in
June 2016 through Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/993 until July 2017.
According to art. 42 TEU, CSDP operations are a prerogative of the member states.
In the case of EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA, according to the official EU
documents for this mission, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security
Policy proposed a CSDP operation at the request of the Council, which the Council
approved. The Political and Security Committee (PSC) exercises strategic and
political control, which means that it decides who the operation commander is and
can amend the operation plan, the chain of command and the rules of engagement.
The EU Military Committee (EUMC) monitors the execution of the operation and
liaises with the operation commander. Therefore, this operation is guided by the
EEAS and the HR/VP as it chairs the Nicolaidis Group, which prepares the PSC. The
two main institutional actors are the Council and the EEAS.
This mission is an example of a type 2 CSDP operation, which uses an Operational
HQ, put forward by Italy in Rome. The EU Operation Commander is Italian, Rear
Admiral Enrico Credendino, the flagship is Italian, Aircraft Carrier Garibaldi, and Italy
provides the majority of the staff. But it is not an isolated mission but part of a larger
form of structural policy and diplomacy, similar to EUCAP NESTOR. It aims to control
Libyas maritime borders and to enhance the capacity of the Libyan authorities to do
the same. According to Keukeleire et al. (2016), this type of CSDP instrument is a
clear example of structural diplomacy as it aims to strengthen border management
structures of third countries. It emphasizes partnership with the Libyan authorities
and overt diffusion of norms through training and capacity building. In addition to this,
it is part of the larger structural foreign policy going on in Libya and abides by an
UNSCR mandate. As opposed to other CSDP operations, such as EUFOR Libya or
EUBAM Libya, EUNAVFOR MED Operation SOPHIA was swiftly put into operation
in the wake of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean in 2015. This shows that the
member states can overcome strategical and operational interests in a timely
Twenty-five member states, excepting Denmark which has an opt-out on defence
policy, contribute to the mission. The brunt of the costs is borne by the member
states, which contribute operational support in the form of air (6) and naval assets (6)
as well as personnel. However, there was also a common budget approved for the
operation of 11.6 million until July 2016 (70% commitments, 40% for payments) and
a reference amount for the common costs for the period 28 July 2016 27 July 2017
of 6.7 million. The common costs (including transport, infrastructure, medical
services, lodging, fuel, and others) are monitored through the Athena mechanism
and each member pays into it annually proportionally to its GNI. The Athena
mechanism is managed by a special committee composed of member state
representatives, representative of the EEAS and Commission in an observer
capacity and dedicated administrative personnel.
This set-up clearly shows the predominance of the member states over CSDP
operations and the limited management role the EEAS plays. The operation
commander reports bi-annually to the PSC, which reports to the Council, while
copying in the EUMC and EEAS. The Council in the form of the Nicolaidis Group
decides on future action. The European Council provides political guidance, such as
the recent Council conclusion, where it calls for more action in terms of capacity
building. While the ECFR scored card for 2015 sees the mission as having limited
success, it nonetheless presents some elements of success in terms of outreach. As
a leaked operational report states, the operation commander has been involved in
outreach activities with organizations of the African Union and with one of the warring
parties in Libya, with which he discussed the potential of capacity building.


Migration external dimension

The European Council underlines the need to enhance support for the Libyan coastguard,
including through EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia, so as to increase its capacity to
prevent the loss of life at sea and break the business model of smugglers. In parallel,
initiatives need to be taken to offer assisted voluntary return opportunities to migrants
stranded in Libya and curtail dangerous journeys.
(Council Conclusions 15 December, 2016)