Press releases

Comments on 11 March extraordinary meeting of the European Council

10 March 2011

Brussels, 10 March 2011     For immediate release

Prior to the extraordinary meeting of the European Council in Brussels on 11 March, on developments in EU Southern Neighbourhood-Libya, the EPC issued the following comments:

North Africa: Underlying economic problems must be addressed
Fabian Zuleeg, EPC Chief Economist: ”In the longer term, Europe must help to address the underlying economic problems which will otherwise continue to fuel instability and outward migration. A key issue is the lack of economic perspective for many in the young, male population. Here, the focus must be on education and skills development. European investments through for example loan-financed infrastructure projects can only be effective if these populations are able to benefit from the employment opportunities thus created. Care also needs to be taken to ensure that uptake of such funding is facilitated through capacity building and that the countries in question have the ability to service such loans.”

Further information  +32 (0)2 286 1191

Migration: Redistribution of asylum seekers may be necessary
Yves Pascouau, EPC Senior Policy Analyst: “Border control should not undermine the obligation of the EU and its Member States to respect human rights. Hence, Italy and others affected by the movement of people from North Africa must ensure that asylum seekers are entitled to access asylum procedures. This implies the capacity to determine which migrants are in need of international protection and which are not, and to avoid any ‘push back’.

Should the number of migrants arriving onto EU shores grow drastically, a redistribution of asylum seekers among all EU Member States has to be seriously considered. It might also be appropriate to make use of the never-before-used EU Directive on temporary protection. This provides immediate and temporary protection in the event of mass influx or imminent mass influx of displaced persons where Member States’ asylum systems are at risk of dysfunction. Making use of this directive will prove Member States’ solidarity and willingness to respect the human rights of persons seeking international protection.

Recent EU commitments of EU assistance aiming to target development efforts to support income and jobs in these countries must be delivered. Action should also include the possibility of increased legal migration to the EU. The EU is right to encourage mobility in order to contribute to open societies. Hence, a mobility partnership and visa facilitation regime for countries of the region would be an encouraging sign of openness for future relations.”

Further information  +32 (0)2 286 9373
Sheena McLoughlin, EPC Policy Analyst  +32 (0)2 286 9373

Strategic objectives: Stable governance a priority
Hans Martens, EPC Chief Executive: “The primary objective for the EU now should be to underpin developments in a more democratic direction, and to do what is possible to ensure that stable governance institutions are established. Only when this is in place, and, therefore, the absorption capacity is established, can investments in modernisation take place. The immediate issue is not massive money flows into North Africa and the Middle East, but much more to ensure a direction towards stable, democratic and open societies.”

Further information  +32 (0)2 286 1190

The EU approach: Historic opportunity to help build the EU neighbourhood
Josef Janning, EPC Director of Studies: “Change in North Africa provides historic opportunities for the EU to help build a prosperous, peaceful and democratic neighbourhood. The EU should take a new look at its Mediterranean policy reinvigorating the Barcelona Process and its tools. In its decisions on assistance and aid, the EU will need to follow a country-specific approach, tailoring its goals and means to the very different conditions and developments in the region. The challenge of transition is serious, and strategic planning will be critical. In none of the three countries in transformation is the state of affairs stable and on a promising track.”

Further information  +32 (0)2 286 9379

Security issues: No-fly zone solves no problems
Josef Janning, EPC Director of Studies: “The situation in Libya creates a dilemma for Europe and the international community. While the actions of the regime and the fighting cause severe human casualties and suffering, Europe should avoid becoming part of a conflict that appears to be predominantly a struggle between tribes loyal to and in opposition to Gaddafi. A popular movement for democracy has still to emerge in Libya. Humanitarian reasons speak for an intervention; the political situation clearly speaks against it. Should the international community intervene on the humanitarian task, it would also have to shoulder the political transformation, thus setting another problematic case of externally built governance.

A no-fly zone over Libya would limit the regime's military options but its implementation would drag the international community into the conflict. Without ground troops, tank and artillery attacks of loyal forces on cities and installations could hardly be prevented. Instead of using scarce resources on enforcing a no-fly zone, Europe and the international community should mobilise all available means of assistance, including the deployment of military vessels and aircraft, to take on board refugees, provide medical assistance and food, as well as assisting the people from other countries, such as guest workers from sub-saharan Africa, which are caught in the middle of the conflict.”

Further information  +32 (0)2 286 9379


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