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Europe does not have to be ashamed of its humanitarian action

t Whether for the evacuation of European nationals from Libya (Pegasus I) or for the air and sea bridge which is about to be set up in Tunisia (Pegasus II), the Europeans do not have to be ashamed of their action. For once, the evil tongues will say. This is new, the optimists will say. Let's not hesitate, the reaction, even if it was a little disordered at the start, is commensurate with the events. And, unlike in Haiti, during the earthquake a year ago, it was the Europeans who, this time, held the lead, the Americans having only had a supplementary role.

Significant resources committed

For Operation Pegasus I (Libya), according to a count carried out by 'B2', the various governments engaged around thirty government planes - some carrying out several rotations - and around fifteen military ships which shuttled or were in transit. alert, not counting civilian planes and ferries chartered either by the governments of EU member states or by foreign governments (China).

For Operation Pegasus II (Tunisia), I have so far counted 16 planes (military, civilian chartered by the government) and 5 ships made available to international organizations to repatriate refugees arriving at the Tunisian border. The Europeans are responsible for repatriating refugees from states that are rather penniless, like this Italian C130 which is repatriating migrants to Mali.

A diplomatic offensive

The same is true of diplomatic action. We can have a pessimistic vision of what is happening which appears to be the reproduction of patterns inherited from history. Or try to give substance to this disorder. Having initiated the first resolution at the United Nations with the Americans, the French and British are, in any case, continuing the offensive. The British are in Benghazi (a small diplomatic mission confirmed Liam Fox, the UK Minister of Defense), the French with Alain Juppé in Egypt and with the Arab League, and the diplomatic service of the EU with the support of the Italians to Tripoli.

We can, however, regret that there was not a more formal and solemn recognition of the Libyan National Council (the opposition) as France has just done on Sunday (read here), after an interview between Alain Juppé and the leader of the Council, Abdel – Fattah Younis al-Obaidi.

European diplomacy is thus deployed, in a way that may seem disordered, but which in fact reflects a sharing of roles. This is the first time since the establishment of the European External Action Service that the European Union has had to face a major conflict which affects its economic, geographical and political interests as closely as possible.

A plurality of converging voices

The “single voice” of Europe does not exist in this matter, as has often been attributed (erroneously) to one of the effects of the Lisbon Treaty. There is no need for it. And that would even be a mistake. This would mean depriving oneself of the entire range of opinion that forms European history and politics, and also of diversified possibilities for contact. European foreign policy marks, here, its specificity compared to American or Chinese policy: there is no single point of view but a difference of appreciation which converges towards a single objective. A plurality of converging voices, a choir of sorts, which works when there are no false notes...

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).