Following the Council´s decision of 31 March to launch the Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, with the core task to implement the UN arms embargo on Libya, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence at the European Parliament Nathalie Loiseau (Renew Europe; FR) said:

“This is a new CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) military operation intended to strengthen the European Union´s efforts to enforce the UN arms embargo, which is a prerequisite for ending the Libyan conflict. The decision on launching IRINI is welcome. It comes at a time when the situation in Libya remains deeply worrying. Fighting goes on and the warring factions continue to obtain arms from outside, while foreign powers are sending mercenaries to Libya and fuelling the conflict instead of working towards its resolution.

By deciding to launch IRINI, the European Union is demonstrating the priority it attaches to the stabilization of Libya and is sending out a signal of its unity. All the Member States support the political settlement process begun with the Berlin Conference and call on the warring factions to bring about a complete cessation of hostilities.

At a time when the whole world is facing a major health crisis, it is time to heed the UN Secretary-General’s call for an end to conflicts throughout the world.”

At the Berlin Conference on Libya on 19 January 2020 the participants committed to fully respect and implement the arms embargo established by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1970 (2011), 2292 (2016) and 2473 (2019).

Therefore, the Council reached a political agreement to launch a new operation in the Mediterranean, aimed at implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya by using aerial, satellite and maritime assets on 17 February 2020. In addition to monitoring the arms embargo, IRINI’s mission will combat the human traffickers operating from Libya.

The mandate of Operation IRINI will initially last until 31 March 2021, and will be under the scrutiny of EU Member States that will exercise political control through the Political and Security Committee (PSC). According to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, “ministers agreed that the potential impact on migration flows would be monitored carefully and could, in some cases, lead to the withdrawal of maritime assets from the relevant area.”

In parallel with the launch of Operation IRINI, the existing EUNAVFOR MED operation in the Mediterranean, SOPHIA, will permanently cease its activities.