EU’s Borrell Plays Down Malta Deal On ‘IRINI’ Withdrawal


The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said, on Tuesday that Libya needed political stability to stop waves of migration from leaving the country.

Borrell has downplayed a potential deal with Malta, to unblock its veto on the budget for Operation ‘IRINI’, the EU’s mission to enforce the UN arms embargo.

“It is not a deal to be done with Malta,” Borrell said in reply to a question on the alleged understanding reached with the government. “I understand Malta’s concerns because they are facing a strong push of migrants from Libya. I understand perfectly. I am trying to mobilise our capacities from the home affairs commissioner, and for member states to be involved, to try help Malta face this situation.”

The new naval mission is set to be established off the coast of Libya, to monitor the UN arms embargo on the country, and not directed in particular at the Government of National Accord (GNA), or the Libyan National Army (LNA), Borrell added.

Despite the attempts by the international community to reach a peace deal in Libya, fighting between the GNA, and the LNA continues. The LNA controls vast swathes of southern and eastern Libya, while the GNA maintains authority over Tripoli, and pockets of territory in the west of the country.

The European Union launched Operation ‘IRINI’ on the 31st of March. It succeeds Operation Sophia, which focused on rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. The mission collapsed when the Italian authorities stopped accepting rescue vessels. According to the EU, ‘IRINI’s main objective is to fully enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya, through the use of maritime, aerial and satellite assets.