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How the planning of the maritime operation on Libya was stopped, on the EU side

(BRUSSELS2/exclusive) According to information reaching me, Cathy Ashton, “the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy”, has not only slowed down the planning of an EU maritime operation to control the arms embargo on Libya. She gave the order — several days ago already — to stop any planning of such an operation, using to do this her direct authority over the crisis management structures (Defense Europe), without therefore going through the structure of the diplomatic service (or general secretariat). What we had called, publicly and modestly, “careful planning” hid, in fact, a refusal of planning.

For the High Representative, however, this decision is justified for three reasons. One is political and of principle: we must avoid any duplication with NATO (which has already started parallel work). The other two are operational. The maritime control of the embargo does not appear “not really effective” so many routes for weapons exist by air or land. Finally, we must not complicate the generation of forces for the EU anti-piracy operation “Eunavfor Atalanta” by asking States for other maritime assets. The European Parliament was apparently not informed of this decision.

The reasons given seem questionable to say the least and above all hide the desire not to see an alternative European defense emerge. Classic UK position. We can also see that the French who campaigned so hard for the autonomy of crisis management structures find themselves caught in their own trap. The direct hierarchical route which links the European Defense structures directly to the High Representative having been preferred to the traditional route of the General Secretariat of the Service.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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