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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article2 May 2024Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations3 min read

Press statement by President von der Leyen with Cypriot President Christodoulides and Lebanese Prime Minister Mikati

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you very much for welcoming President Christodoulides and me here in Beirut. Lebanon is a beautiful, diverse and vibrant country, full of energy and potential. But it faces significant challenges domestically and as a result of tensions and war in the region. We understand this and we are here first and foremost to say that the European Union strongly supports Lebanon and its people. And we want to reinforce our long-standing cooperation. This was also the very clear message of European Leaders at our last Summit. And today we, Nikos and me, are here in a Team Europe spirit to reiterate that message.

Today, we discussed how we can strengthen our political and economic relations and support the security and stability of Lebanon. To underline our support, I can announce a financial package of EUR 1 billion for Lebanon that would be available from this year until 2027. We want to contribute to Lebanon's socio-economic stability.

First, by strengthening basic services, investments in for example education, social protection and health, for the people in Lebanon.

Second, we will accompany you as you take forward economic, financial and banking reforms. These reforms are key for the long-term improvement of the overall economic situation of the country. This would allow the business environment and the banking sector to regain the trust of the international community and thus enable private sector investment. Lebanon needs and deserves a positive economic momentum to give opportunities to its businesses and citizens.

Third, security and stability are also key for these investments. We will support the Lebanese armed forces as well as the general and internal security forces. This will be mainly focused on providing equipment, training and the necessary infrastructure for border management. In addition, it would be very helpful for Lebanon to conclude a working arrangement with Frontex, particularly on information exchange and situational awareness.

Fourth, to help you in managing migration, we are committed to maintain legal pathways open to Europe and resettle refugees from Lebanon to the European Union. At the same time, we count on your good cooperation to prevent illegal migration and combat migrant smuggling.

Finally, we understand the challenges that Lebanon faces with hosting Syrian refugees and other displaced persons. It is vital to ensure the well-being of the host communities and Syrian refugees. Since 2011, the European Union has supported Lebanon with EUR 2.6 billion – not only for the Syrian refugees but also for the host communities. And we will continue to do so. 

We will also look at how we can make the EU's assistance more effective. This includes exploring how to work on a more structured approach to voluntary returns to Syria, in close cooperation with UNHCR. At the same time, there needs to be strengthened support from the international community, for humanitarian and early recovery programmes in Syria.

I would like to finish by focusing on the conflict in Gaza and its impact on Lebanon. We fully support all efforts to reach a ceasefire and release of all hostages. And we have just increased further our extensive humanitarian aid to Gaza. Ultimately, we need a peace process towards a two-state solution. It is the only solution that can bring lasting peace and stability to the Middle East. In the meantime, we must continue to work towards a de-escalation of conflict. And we are deeply concerned about the volatile situation in South Lebanon. What is at stake is the security of both Lebanon and Israel. The two cannot be disassociated. So, we call for the full implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 by all parties. This needs to be part of a negotiated diplomatic settlement. Here too, the Lebanese armed forces are critical, and the European Union is ready to work on how to bolster their capabilities.

Dear Prime Minister,

to conclude, let me assure you that you can count on the European Union's sustained support for Lebanon and its people. It is a long-term partnership and friendship. The bonds between Lebanon and Europe are deep and strong. It is these bonds that will continue to drive our cooperation. Thanks again for having me here and for being such a fantastic host.