European Aid Offer for Libya Seeks `Immediate Peace Dividend'

  • Formation of national unity government would trigger funding
  • Bulk of 100 million euros in EU aid would be front-loaded

The formation of a Libyan national unity government would trigger immediate European Union aid of as much as 72 million euros ($82 million) for the country, according to an EU document.

The assistance would be the first part of a 100 million-euro aid offer that EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini held out for Libya on Oct. 9, a day after the United Nations envoy for the north African nation proposed a national unity government in a bid to end four years of civil war since the overthrow and death of dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The UN-brokered plan is in doubt after the internationally recognized Libyan rulers, based in the eastern port of Tobruk, rejected the proposal on Monday as tensions persist with rival Islamist authorities based in the capital city of Tripoli.

The initial EU aid for Libya under any “Government of National Accord,” or GNA, would be to advise its officials, support municipalities, train nurses and journalists, enhance security, help migrants and provide continued humanitarian assistance, according to the document drawn up by the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s executive arm in Brussels, and seen by Bloomberg News on Tuesday.

“Our immediate objective will be to support the GNA so that it can operate effectively, in particular by providing technical assistance in order to strengthen its capacity,” according to the paper, which is undated. “It is also essential that the Libyans perceive tangible benefits from the restoration of peace and stability to their country -- which is why support to municipalities (local governance), health and protection will continue to be top priorities.”

The EU, struggling to respond to civil wars in the Middle East and Africa that have provoked Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II, sees a chance for some relief on its southern sea borders as a result of the Libyan peace initiative by UN special envoy Bernardino Leon. On Oct. 9, Mogherini called his proposal “an important step.”

The commission’s paper stresses risks to the reconciliation process and the potential rewards from it.

‘Real Possibility’

“Many challenges lie ahead, not least implementing an agreement on the ground where some may persist in boycotting or obstructing the process,” according to the paper. “The imminent formation of a Government of National Accord is, nonetheless, a real possibility and presents an opportunity for a new start. The European Union should do all it can to support this process.”

The bulk of the first part of the planned EU aid package would entail resuming and scaling up 13 assistance programs that total 55.7 million euros. These measures “directly benefit the Libyan people and will enable them to receive an immediate peace dividend,” the commission paper said.

A second part of the package would come within six months and include the reactivation of suspended assistance programs aimed at bolstering jobs and improving education and the start of new programs such as for good governance and human-rights defenders, according to the commission paper. It also cites the delivery of three Libyan maritime-police vessels repaired by Italian authorities.

“Negotiations and dialog remain the only viable solution for the Libyans to overcome the current conflict,” Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for Mogherini, told reporters on Tuesday in Brussels. “It’s essential that they continue with this in order to find an outcome that is acceptable to different peoples in the country.”

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