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An exploratory mission ready to go. The watchwords of European aid

(BRUSSELS2) An exploratory mission from the European Union is ready to leave for Libya, in Tripoli, as soon as possible, to examine possible European aid. The High Representative of the EU, Catherine Ashton, confirmed this during a press briefing held late in the afternoon. “ We are preparing to send a mission very quickly to verify the needs. You have to be ready to answer everything”.

This mission, according to our information, could include between 4 and 8 people, representing the different components of possible European assistance (people from development and from the EEAS, from the planning of PeSDC missions, from the neighboring delegation in Tunis). She could go" as soon as possible” “Tomorrow if necessary” said someone close to Catherine Ashton. NB: Let us point out that in Tripoli, the EU is represented by the Hungarian ambassador – the Hungarian diplomatic mission has never closed its doors, even if the operating conditions were sometimes very difficult and limited to a minimum.

The key words of European aid

But this European aid will obey several key words. 

1° Start from the needs of the Libyans. It is necessary " assess precisely with the Libyans what they want » and provide the « needs that Libyans expect ". It is important that all Libyans are masters of their destiny said Lady Ashton.

2° Action under the aegis of the UN. The European Union places its role under the aegis of the United Nations rather than certain multinational initiatives. Catherine Ashton will thus attend “ the Cairo group meeting this Friday in New York (Nb: she will leave Brussels on Thursday).

3° The coordination of the efforts of the Member States. " The key word is coordination to channel all the aid from Member States. We are setting up a sort of clearing house to provide the Libyans with what they expect, by mobilizing the full range of our instruments.”

Rather than direct economic aid, restart assistance

Regarding possible economic aid, it is not automatically necessary. It is obvious that Libya – with its resource potential – is not in the same situation as other countries. “ The economic assistance provided to Libya will not be the same as that of an economy starting from scratch. (…) I do not anticipate additional economic aid. » It is more about helping the new power to get the Libyan economy back on track. The most urgent – ​​explained a senior European official – will certainly be “ the supply of oil and electricity because without that we cannot do anything, neither care in hospitals, nor the supply of water or food ».

The unfreezing of assets in good order and through a transparent process

The thawing of Libyan assets is of course on everyone's lips. But the High Representative of the EU put one condition: the United Nations agreement. She also does not hide that there is a “big challenge” to reallocate her resources “ according to a process which must be open, transparent, to rebuild a state structure, pay civil servants ". Member States are ready to do it, the meeting of PSC ambassadors proved it. According to an expert on the matter, who spoke to B2, if the governments agree, this can happen fairly quickly, without a new meeting, if necessary by a written procedure.

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).