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Brussels, 4 October 2010

Commissioners Malmström and Füle visit Libya to reinforce EU-Libya cooperation

Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs, and Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, travel to Libya on 4-6 October where they will meet representatives of the Libyan government to discuss the state of bilateral relations, two years after the start of negotiations on an EU-Libya Framework Agreement. Particular attention will be paid to advancing our co-operation on migration issues, particularly improving the protection of refugees but also border control, co-operation with countries of origin etc.

Before leaving for Tripoli, Commissioner Füle said: “Over the past three years, relations between the EU and Libya have developed well. We share important common interests in areas such as trade, energy and the security and development of Africa." Commissioner Malmström added that: "Developing a balanced cooperation with Libya on all dimensions of migration is an important priority for the EU.”

At the European Councils of June and October 2009, European leaders underlined the need for a significant strengthening of cooperation with the main countries of origin and transit of irregular migration in the Mediterranean region and invited the Commission to explore concrete cooperation with third countries. The visit of Commissioners Malmström and Füle is intended to conclude the process of negotiations with Libya on an ambitious and multi-dimensional ‘cooperation agenda’, covering all aspects related to migration.

This agenda is intended to cover issues ranging from border security to protection of migrants, mobility among the parties and increased cooperation with countries of origin in Africa. We also intend to get a better understanding of the challenges faced by Libya in the fight against trafficking of human beings, and in the fight against illicit trafficking and terrorism at its southern borders.

In November 2008 the Commission and Libya launched negotiations for an EU-Libya Framework 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. Negotiations are making good progress. The eighth negotiation session took place recently in Brussels while the ninth round is scheduled to take place in mid November in Tripoli.

In the context of the development of relations with Libya, the Commission and Libya have agreed in June 2010 on a Memorandum of Understanding providing for EU technical assistance and cooperation for the period from 2011 to 2013. This programme will focus on three priorities:

  • improving the quality of human capital, in particular supporting health reform,

  • increasing the sustainability of economic and social development, in particular supporting trade reform and the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

  • and addressing jointly the challenge of managing migration.

To support the expanding list of bilateral activities, the Commission has also decided to open an Office in Tripoli. This Office, which should become operational in early 2011, should remain under the authority of the EU Delegation in Tunis.

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