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Brussels, 6 February 2009

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner visits Libya to reinforce EU-Libya relations

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, travels to Tripoli on 9 and 10 February where she will meet representatives of the Libyan government. Discussions will review the progress in developing EU-Libya relations since negotiations for an EU-Libya Framework Agreement started last November. While in Tripoli, the Commissioner will open the second round of negotiations for this Agreement. The visit will also launch the programming of the EU financial cooperation with Libya for the years until 2013.

Before leaving for Tripoli, Ferrero-Waldner, said: “Libya has the potential to become a key partner for the EU in the Mediterranean as well as in Africa. We share common interests in important areas such as trade, energy and the development of the African continent. This is why I am determined to advance in developing our relations through a policy of dialogue, cooperation and engagement.” And she added: "The flux of migrants reaching Libya and the EU is a cause of increasing concern for both sides. I will therefore also raise this sensitive issue during my discussions in Libya with a view to identifying the most appropriate form of cooperation.''

The Memorandum of Understanding on the relations between Libya and the European Union signed by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and Secretary Elobeidi on 23 July 2007 makes a number of commitments whose implementation is either in course or under preparation. The Memorandum highlights the areas of common interest such as trade, migration, education, public health and culture, among others.

In November 2008 the Commission and Libya launched negotiations for a broad agreement providing for political dialogue and cooperation on foreign policy and security issues; for a free trade area as deep and comprehensive as possible; and for cooperation in key areas of common concern such as energy, transport, migration, visa, justice and home affairs, environment and other topics like maritime policy and fisheries, education and health.

The future Framework Agreement, if concluded in line with the level of ambition currently stated by the parties, will have a high potential for the development of cooperation, increased trade and investment between Libya and the EU as well as political dialogue on central issues.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: "Our Agreement will not only strengthen the EU-Libya relations, but also substantially contribute to Libya’s current policy of consolidating its position in the international community."

More than 25 Commission officials from different services will participate in this round of negotiations.

Since 2006 the Commission has supported the Libyan health sector by providing technical and financial assistance to the Benghazi Centre for Infectious Diseases that already amounts to more than €8 million. The Commission will shortly sign a contract with a leading EU medical institution to support Libya in the elaboration of a national strategy against HIV/AIDS. Moreover, several HIV-infected children from Libya have already been treated in Europe thanks to the solidarity of certain member States.

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