This page was archived on October 2020.


North Africa

43 - Libya

Grade: C+
Unity 4/5
Resources 2/5
Strategy 3/5
Impact 1/5
Total 10/20
Scorecard 2012: B+ (15/20)
Scorecard 2013: B- (11/20)
Scorecard 2014: B- (11/20)
Scorecard 2015: C- (7/20)

Europe helped prevent escalation of the conflict but did not pressure its regional allies, while peace remained elusive and ISIS expanded

Europe aimed to help establish a national unity government in Libya in order to stabilise the country in the face of chaos, government collapse, and ISIS expansion. The EU and relevant member states sought a single partner with whom to carry out anti-smuggling operations, as the refugee crisis became a major impetus for Europeans urging Libya’s factions to share power.

Europeans supported UN-led negotiations under Special Representative Bernardino Léon and his successor, Martin Kobler. No significant disunity emerged among member states, although Libya was rarely a top priority. Effective coordination began between relevant member states, the EU, and the US under the “P3+5” format, including formally upholding the arms embargo on Libya, despite flagrant violations by regional allies and their heavy pressures on Europe to support competing sides of the conflict. Together with the US, Europe had an important role in denying Libyan factions access to financial resources and preserving the independence of Libyan economic institutions. These measures created incentives for major factions to join the talks.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) took the lead in working with city councils, both on a separate “municipal track” of UN peace talks, and to deliver humanitarian aid. Some member states followed up in support of local governance initiatives, particularly the Netherlands and Italy. The UK mobilised support for the unity government and convened a conference on coordinating assistance programmes, although this was put on hold pending the formation of a unity government in Tripoli.

To shore up Western, regional, and Russian support for political dialogue, Italy convened an international conference in December. This created the necessary external pressure for an agreement under UN auspices, but has not yet led to the formation of a unity government. Meanwhile, ISIS expanded its control in central Libya, the UN deal has been challenged, and refugee flows have continued unabated. The stabilisation of the country proved elusive, and Europeans rarely put pressure on their regional allies to de-escalate the conflict.