EU plans to resume maritime patrols in the Mediterranean faced more delays on Monday as foreign ministers struggled to convince Austria to lift its objections in a blow to efforts to uphold a UN arms embargo on Libya.
The EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell hoped that Monday’s meeting of foreign ministers would agree to revive the EU’s military mission, which stopped deploying ships last March after Italy said it would no longer take in migrants rescued at sea.
“I do not think today we are going to be able to [reach a final decision],” Borrell told reporters.
Italy is ready to restart the sea patrols, its vice foreign minister said last week, but diplomats said Austria was still blocking, based on its position that people rescued on the high seas should not be taken to Europe.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged the EU to agree on a mission, a day after a senior UN official warned that the arms embargo aimed at curbing fighting in Libya was meaningless because there is no one to enforce it.
“It’s about the security of Europe,” Maas said.
Libya Map Infographic - Omar El Katouri