Systematic EU’s engagement with the Libyan authorities is necessary, with a focus on border management, countering irregular migration and addressing the needs of migrants in Libya – calls the European Committee of the Regions opinion debated and adopted today by the EU’s advisory body Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX). The report presented by Hans Janssen (EPP/NL), Mayor of Oisterwijk further calls for aid to Libyan local authorities to comply with international humanitarian and human rights standards.

The tragedy starts in the countries of origin, not in the sea. EU should contribute to local economic development in the countries along the Central Mediterranean route by supporting municipalities in their role of local development actors” argues the rapporteur – “We should invest continuous support for capacity building in migration management for Libya’s local and national authorities”.

Over 180 000 people were detected on the Central Mediterranean route in 2016. Almost 90% of those on the route depart from Libya, where the unstable political and economic situation provides the opportunity for smugglers to expand their activities.

Hans Janssen‘s opinion on “Migration on the Central Mediterranean Route” recognises an added value of the Nicosia Initiative as a capacity building project in support of Libyan municipalities carried out in partnership with European local and regional authorities. It further calls for expansion of training programmes for the Libyan Coast Guard leading to more firm action to step up the fight against smugglers and traffickers – in coordination with other countries in the region: Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt.

“Migration and development policies are closely linked. International, national, regional and local cooperation is crucial for making a common European migration policy a reality – argues Janssen – the existing socio-economic support for municipalities along the migratory route needs to be reinforced, providing alternative livelihoods for those involved in smuggling and trafficking”.

The document outlines multilevel governance approach as a prerequisite to achieving optimum results. It calls crucial that the EU, national and sub-national authorities work in close cooperation with local and regional authorities in the countries of transit and with civil society, migrants’ associations and local communities in the host countries and are receptive to their input.

The opinion will be subject to final vote at the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions in July 2017.

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