This page was archived on October 2020.


North Africa

37 - Libya

Grade: C-
Unity 2/5
Resources 2/5
Outcome 3/10
Total 7/20
Scorecard 2013: B- (11/20)
Scorecard 2014: B- (11/20)

Libya plunged into a civil war, European presence on the ground dwindled, and no credible strategy to deal with the conflict emerged.

Since Europe supported the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, the EU has pursued capacity building for the nascent Libyan institutions, with a focus on the security sector and support for the constitutional transition. However, in the current environment, this has been put on hold. 

Throughout 2014, Libya gradually descended into a civil war that, by the end of the year, had claimed almost 3,000 lives and displaced over 400,000 of Libya’s 6 million inhabitants. Fighting escalated from May and accelerated after the European-supported parliamentary elections in June. During the summer, rival governments were set up in Tripoli and Tobruk, with the government in Tobruk being formed as the result of elections and therefore retaining international recognition. By the end of 2014 only two EU Member states (Italy and Hungary) retained embassies in Libya.

As a consequence, large European programmes (many of them UK-funded) were significantly scaled down or stopped altogether: these included the training of the Libyan army by the UK and Italy; the French programme for the police forces; the EU Border Assistance Mission; and various institution- and capacity-building programmes. Europeans remained united in support of UN mediation. Italy and Spain organised two international conferences. Nevertheless, the EU and the member states failed to produce a policy capable of insulating Libya from the regional confrontation. A number of regional powers (Turkey, Egypt, the UAE, and Qatar) supported different sides of the fighting and Europeans failed to thwart this interference. Europeans struggled to combine in a coherent strategy their different priorities: support for the Tobruk government; dialogue between the two coalitions in support of the UN mission; concern for the rise of the ISIS and other violent extremists in Libya. France repeatedly emphasised the ISIS situation but failed to gain the support of other EU states. However, thanks to cooperation with the UK, France secured approval for a UN Security Council resolution blacklisting the terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia.