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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article6 February 2023Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations1 min read

Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi attends the handover ceremony of EU-financed Search and Rescue vessels to Libya

Search and Rescue vessels

Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Várhelyi participates today at the official handover ceremony of the first of the five specialised Search and Rescue vessels to the Libyan Coast Guard. The delivery of the boats will strengthen the partnership between the EU, Italy and Libya to address irregular migration ahead of the upcoming special European Council meeting on 9-10 February. The project was initiated and supported by the European Commission, implemented by the Ministry of Interior of Italy, and significantly financed by the Visegrád Group countries.

This project aims to help avoid the tragic losses of lives across the Central Mediterranean region by increasing the capacity of the Libyan authorities to protect the borders and fight against criminal smuggling networks. The EU’s ongoing portfolio for border management in Libya amounts to EUR 59 million. It provides the delivery of Search and Rescue vessels, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, the provision of training, repair and maintenance services, and other equipment to the Libyan authorities. Today’s ceremony will handover one of the five Search and Rescue vessels to the Libyan Coast Guard. It follows the recent signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya, including the full respect of human rights and strict conditions and safeguards.

The European Commission remains committed to its partnership with North Africa to address the increased illegal migratory pressure in close cooperation with the Member States. It aims to prevent irregular migration upstream, strengthen border protection, counter migrant smuggling and trafficking networks, and foster returns. Overall, the EU is investing at least EUR 800 million across North Africa until 2024 to meet the emerging challenges and deliver tangible results with an impact on the ground.

Today’s handover ceremony takes place in Adria (Italy), with Mr Antonio Tajani, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs of Italy, and Ms Najla Mangoush, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Libya.