The EU is not speaking with one voice to the events in Libya

Following the Foreign Affairs Council, which took place on 21 March, Catherine Ashton said “Today's meeting showed the EU's determination to react quickly and decisively and with one voice to the events in Libya.” One voice?? The EU could not be more divided over the military intervention in Libya.

According to the Foreign Affairs Council’s Conclusions “The Council expresses its satisfaction after the adoption of UNSCR 1973 and underlines its determination to contribute to its implementation.” It is important to mention that Germany abstained from the resolution.

The Council Conclusions recognized the divergences among the member states, as it states “While contributing in a differentiated way, the EU and its Member States are determined to act collectively and resolutely, with all international partners, particularly the Arab League and other regional stakeholders, to give full effect to these decisions.”

Whereas France and Germany are opposed of having NATO leading the military operation against Libya, the other members of the international coalition, including the UK and Italy, are in favour of NATO taking command of it. In fact, Frank Frattini threatened to impose an Italy control over the Italian air bases which has been used for the operation. He said that if there is no agreement for NATO control of the no-fly zone over Libya, “Italy will begin reflecting on the uses of its bases [for the Libya operation]: if there is a multiplication of command centres, we must study a way in which Italy retakes control of its bases,

The EU Member States have, therefore, different positions as regards the EU’s approach to the Libyan crisis. It seems there is an agreement that the EU should focus on the humanitarian area. It was agreed that the EU will “provide CSDP support to humanitarian assistance in response to a request from OCHA and under the coordinating role of the UN.” The Council has asked Catherine Ashton “to develop further planning in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1973 and the European Council Declaration of 11 March 2011, on support for humanitarian assistance/civil protection operations including by maritime means for this purpose” which “should be in close co-ordination and complementarity with the UN, NATO and others.” The European Council will discuss this week a possible EU humanitarian mission.

The EU Foreign Ministers have also adopted further restrictive measures against the Libyan leadership. The Council added more individuals to the EU travel ban and assets freeze list.

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