Sunday, February 20, 2011

The EEAS (European External Action Service) and Libya

Lady Catherine Ashton is head of the EEAS - the new founded European External Action Service - which was established when the Lisbon Treaty came in force. With the Maghreb Countries rising up against dictatorships and struggling for democratic rights... the EEAS will have to come up with sustainable strategies and supporting meassures for the Arab world. Let's recap what strategies the EU followed so far:

In an official document from 2004 the Eropean Parliament states:
"The EU has currently no formal relations with Libya, and the Commission has no Delegation in Tripoli. Nine EU Member States have embassies in Tripoli, and increased focus is being given to Libya following the lifting of the UN sanctions.On the basis of a consensus among the 27 Euro-Med partners reached on the occasion of the third Euro-Med Conference of Foreign Ministers in April 1999 in Stuttgart, Libya can become a full partner of the Barcelona Process if she accepts the full Barcelona acquis.
At the EU-African Summit
At present, Libya is a passive observer in the Barcelona Process, and is present as such at the Foreign Affairs Ministerial meetings, at high level political dialogue meetings, and at the Euro-Med committee. Libya has also attended, as observer, two high level sectoral Euro-Med meetings on energy in 2003. As indicated in the Communication on Wider Europe, in a context of enlargement, the EU should give consideration to how it could incorporate Libya into the neighbourhood policy. In order to send a coherent message, further engagement with Libya needs to be pursued within a conditional framework and a clear understanding of the country’s interest in making progress towards cooperation based on respect for shared values. However, the EU is considering engaging with Libya in selected areas of interest within a defined bilateral strategy, based on a realistic, conditional, and progressive approach, not to be considered as an “a la carte” offer of Barcelona. The long term objectives of EU policy towards Libya must remain Libya’s full accession to the Barcelona Process, accepting all its acquis. Such an approach should make it possible to address issues of interest, while helping Libya join the Barcelona Process and reintegrate fully into the international community." [Read the full text here]

The EEAS strategy paper for the timeperiod 2011-2013 notes:
Press freedom has improved. However, freedom of association and freedom of expression remain restricted and there are still numerous reported abuses of human rights. Recently, many Islamic prisoners were freed and the government has taken steps to grant compensation to victims of the 1996 repression at the Abou Salim jail as well as to destroy this prison, a symbol of internal repression. The Leader of the Revolution, Muammar al-Gaddafi, still retains strong influence."[Read the whole EEAS Strategy Paper on Libya here].

Catherine Ashton and the EEAS are facing a great challenge. The role of the EU in matters of foreign affairs is going to be (re-)defined, especially by the actions the EEAS is going to take now that many Arab countries are heading for change - change that will need careful and deliberate support. Now, with the Maghreb Countries unsettlement, the past strategies will have to be reconsidered and modified - the EEAS will have to prove its ascribed raison d'ĂȘtre.

1 comment:

  1. And here is Ashton's wording on the current events in Libya. freshly released today: