Luis Miguel Bueno, the European Union Spokesman for the Middle East and North Africa described Libya as “a fundamental and strategic issue for the EU.”
In statements, Bueno pointed out the necessity of adherence to the ongoing political process, and the Berlin Conferences. He stressed that there has been great progress in Libya during the past months, “this progress is represented in unifying institutions and preparing for elections. Such progress requires Libyans to contribute to efforts to conduct fair, free, and credible elections.” He emphasises that holding the elections, as scheduled was a key point for reconciliation in Libya.
Bueno added that the EU has supported the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) with €10 million euros, and reiterated the need for all mercenaries and foreign forces to withdraw from Libya.
Earlier in September, Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that political divisions and the fragmentation of Libya are still defining the complicated situation.
“In this context, violence can still erupt at any time and escalate rapidly. None of the actors can achieve victory by himself, but each can provoke the others into a direct confrontation,” Borrell wrote in a blog post on Monday.
Borrell stressed that the current interim period should end on 24 December with elections, but the path towards them is fraught with various issues. He emphasised the need for major efforts by domestic and international stakeholders to make sure that they take place in a free, fair, and credible manner and that all parties would accept the results.
“However, a shared vision for the future of the country, a common sense of purpose, and a spirit of compromise among Libyans cannot be generated by international pressure, or replaced by procedural mechanisms. It will be primarily up to the Libyan leaders themselves to rise to the challenge for their country,” Borrell added.
He confirmed that Libyan Prime Minister, Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba, is the main actor in charge of ensuring the success of the political process. As well as noting the added challenges of operating without control over the majority of the territory, and, without a Parliamentary approved budget.
Peace in Libya would be also a regional game-changer, given its strategic location in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Sahel, given its size and economic potential. With a surface equivalent to France, Spain, Italy, and Germany put together, a population of only 7 million, and the largest oil reserves in Africa, Libya’s fate has the potential to impact the whole region, both in positive and negative terms.
In economic terms, Borrell pointed out that Libya’s reconstruction will need an investment of around $100 billion dollars. As well as noting that the country has substantial resources coming from oil exports, currently 1.2 million bpd, and a sovereign wealth fund worth over $60 billion.
“A recent study by UN ESCWA estimates that the total gains for the region from peace in Libya will be worth more than $160 billion over the period 2021-2025; unemployment would decrease by around 6% in Tunisia, 9% in Egypt, and 14% in Sudan, he concluded.