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EU Policy towards Libya

The Libyan crisis has been a litmus test for European unity and the EU’s ability to act together. Europe's relations with post-revolutionary Libya and European policies on Libya have been characterized by the frequently conflicting interests of Paris, London and Rome, with Berlin emerging as a result of a UN invitation to try and put an end to the instability in Libya. Until the January 2020 Berlin summit, European political and diplomatic interaction with Libya was the domain of EU Member States, with the EU being limited to performing the familiar functions of lending its administrative weight to joint policy roles such as countering migration, promoting business or supporting a developmental road towards stability. All in all, EU strategy remains committed to decision-making mechanisms at Member State level; however, what is exposed in Libya is that the EU toolbox can be a valuable weapon if Europe has a coherent stance. A continuing struggle between member states over how to handle the new world that is emerging in the wake of the Pax Americana is also exposed in European policy on Libya.

EU Policy towards Libya
 

 

Introduction

 

Libya has been an instructive case study on the difficulties Europe has in identifying and engaging with shared foreign policy imperatives or in resolving the cross-cutting policies of member states to create cohesive and coherent foreign policy. EU policy to Libya –as elsewhere– has been to deploy the collective institutional weight of the EU-27 defensively against the most broadly perceived threats, such as migration, or in support of the policy goals of leading member-states such as Germany. The EU’s supportive role behind various German foreign policy positions in Libya, from the need to combat migration through stabilization to buttressing the Berlin process is as much a product of Germany’s relatively unique willingness to address foreign policy issues multilaterally as it is a reflection of the German ability to influence the EU system.

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