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Today’s seminar represents the first technical meeting between the European
Union and Libya focused on saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea and in the
desert. This useful seminar was expeditiously arranged by the Maltese authorities
as a follow-up to the recent exploratory meeting on migration issues which took
place on 22-23rd June between the EU and Libya.

At that meeting both sides highlighted their concern that insufficiently controlled
and increasing migration flows can result in humanitarian disasters in the
Mediterranean and in the desert as a result of attempts to enter Libya and the EU
illegally. Libya and the EU expressed their sincere commitment to work together
to address these human tragedies as part of overall cooperation against illegal

The seminar allowed experts from Libya and EU Member States to have a useful
exchange of factual information on the manner in which states organize their
search and rescue response. Two key themes emerged from the discussion:

    Enhanced operational cooperation between all the parties concerned would
     be required to achieve the best results;
    Preventative action would also be necessary to limit further loss of life
     while re-affirming Libya’s need for support from the European Union
     within the context of the present financial frameworks and focused not
     only in the Mediterranean or the desert, and also through dialogue and
     action with other African countries of transit and origin.

Practical aspects of conducting search and rescue operations for saving lives in the
Mediterranean and in the desert were also addressed. The Libyan delegation gave
an informative presentation on the particular difficulties associated with
surveillance and rescue in the desert and asked for EU technical assistance in
fulfilling this task. The EU agreed to consider the matter further.

In relation to the Mediterranean Sea, the experts identified priorities for
cooperation and recommended that the following issues could be addressed by the
Libya-EU joint committee at its first meeting later this year:

    Establishment of a ‘blue line’ system – i.e. a network of the relevant
     contacts with 24/7 coverage in each participating state;

    Establishment of a Joint Search and Rescue Plan, including preparation of
     an inventory of technical requirements, for enhanced operational
     cooperation between the concerned States for the implementation of the
     Joint Search and Rescue Plan;
    Joint training on management of external borders (in conjunction with
     Frontex) on search and rescue and asylum and protection issues;
    Joint Search and Rescue exercises following prior coordination – to be
     developed for 2006.

The experts discussed international maritime law commitments on search and
rescue, humanitarian protection and asylum issues and the need to deploy efforts
to ensure the most effective surveillance of the maritime external borders thereby
maintaining their integrity. The important work being coordinated by UNHCR on
these issues was noted and the Commission undertook to take that into account in
the progress made by the EU and Libya in their field.

The experts from the EU and Libya agreed to seek a date for the next meeting as
soon as possible.

DOI – 21.07.2005