European Union launches new operation in the Mediterranean to replace Operation Sophia

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Publication Date 2020
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Reports and analyses relating to the replacement of Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea by a new operation focusing on the Libyan civil war.

Further information:

EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia was originally launched on 22 June 2015. The operation's core mandate is to contribute to the European Union's work to disrupt the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean. However, the deployment of naval assets was suspended in March 2019 due to disagreements among Member States of the European Union (EU) regarding disembarkation of migrants. Tha suspension was extended in September 2019.

The idea on replacing Operation Sophia with another operation emerged more consistently as international stakeholders attempted to find a solution to bring Libya's civil war to an end. The International Conference on Libya on 19 January 2020 agreed on the imposition of an arms embargo. The Council of the European Union discussed on the next day the possibility of refocusing the EU's naval mission in the Mediterranean to support that embargo, (which was later made official by the UN Security Council).

On 17 February, the Council adopted a political agreement to launch a new operation in the Mediterranean Sea, primarily aimed at implementing the arms embargo. Its secondary tasks included fighting the organised crime responsible for migration, and training the Libyan coast guard and navy. Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/472 was adopted by the Council of the European Union on 31 March on the establishment of  a new Operation, named EUNAVFOR MED IRINI. It was also decided that Operation Sophia was to permanently cease its activities.

New Force Commanders were appointed on 28 May 2020.

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
ECFR: Commentary, 07/02/2020: Reboot time: Operation Sophia and Italy’s tortuous Libya policy
Deutsche Welle, 18/02/2020: Can the EU's new arms-embargo mission to Libya be effective?
CEPS: In Brief, 02/04/2020: Operation IRINI in Libya: Part of the solution, or part of the problem?
ECFR: Commentary, 03/04/2020: The EU’s ‘Irini’ Libya mission: Europe’s Operation Cassandra
CER: Insights, 08/04/2020: The EU's New Libya Operation is Flawed
ECRE: Op-Ed, 10/04/2020: Op-ed: Business as Usual for the EU Causes the Suffering of Migrants and Refugees in Libya
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 05/05/2020: Libya Needs European Boots on the Ground
IAI: Commentaries (No. 32), 05/05/2020: From Sophia to Irini: EU Mediterranean Policies and the Urgency of "Doing Something"
Euro|topics, May 2020: Libyan government criticises EU mission

Associated Press, 20/01/2020: EU to revamp anti-smuggler mission for UN Libya arms embargo
EurActiv, 20/01/2020: EU to use revamped ‘Operation Sophia’ to enforce Libyan arms embargo
Reuters, 20/01/2020: EU agrees to consider ways to support formal Libya truce
Deutsche Welle, 20/01/2020: EU plans to refocus 'Sophia' naval mission on Libya
Politico, 20/01/2020: EU ministers seek revamp of Operation Sophia to help tackle Libya crisis
The Irish Times, 20/01/2020: EU foreign ministers back Libya military operation
France24, 20/01/2020: EU ministers debate more 'forceful' Libya role
Reuters, 11/02/2020: Austria blocking EU Libya sea patrols over migrants, diplomats say
Associated Press, 14/02/2020: EU officials push for bloc to enforce Libya arms embargo
Deutsche Welle, 17/02/2020: Migration worries shouldn't block EU Libya mission, German foreign minister says
Kathimerini, 17/02/2020: EU split over naval mission amid Libya arms embargo concerns
The Guardian, 17/02/2020: EU agrees to deploy warships to enforce Libya arms embargo
BBC News, 17/02/2020: Libya conflict: EU agrees new patrols to stop arms flow
Kathimerini 17/02/2020: EU agrees to end Med anti-smuggler mission off Libya
Deutsche Welle, 17/02/2020: EU ministers agree on new Libya naval mission
Cyprus Mail, 17/02/2020: EU agrees new Libya sea patrols after Austria lifts veto
Politico, 17/02/2020: Operation Sophia to be closed down and replaced
EUObserver, 18/02/2020: EU set for new Libya naval mission
EurActiv, 29/04/2020: EU’s Libya naval mission to begin work ‘within days’
Anadolu Agency, 07/05/2020: Libya calls for probe of Operation IRINI
Reuters, 08/05/2020: Malta pulls out of new EU Libya sea patrols in migration row
Times of Malta, 08/05/2020: Malta to veto EU funding for naval mission monitoring Libya arms traffic
Times of Malta, 04/06/2020: Bartolo sees possible international political motive for China espionage claims

Website of the EU's Operation IRINI
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 28/05/2020: Operation IRINI: Council appoints new Force Commanders

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