Foreign ministers of the EU countries met on Monday 22 June in Luxembourg to hold a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council. The Council, presided by the Union´s High Representative Federica Mogherini made two important decisions. Firstly, the ministers agreed to prolong the targeted economic sanctions against Russia until January 2016. The Council also made it clear that any suspension or withdrawal of the measures will be linked to the implementation of the Minsk II Agreement. Secondly, the ministers formally launched an EU naval operation, EUNAVFOR Med, aimed at disrupting the smugglers´ networks in the Mediterranean. This operation is part of the complex approach of the Union regarding the migration crisis. Its initial mandate is for 12 months and will be deployed in 3 phases. The first phase will consist of monitoring and assessment of the situation. In the second phase, the operation´s forces will seize smugglers and their vessels. In the third phase, the EU forces should destroy the seized vessels. For now, only the first phase will be operational. Anything beyond that requires an UN mandate, which will be difficult to obtain. Another option would be an agreement with Libya, from where the vessels usually come, though this does not seem plausible – the officially recognized Libyan government refused any such operations in its waters.
19th June 2018