Documents considered by the Committee on 7 September 2011, including the following recommendation for debate: Standing Order and membership - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

20 EU restrictive measures against Libya





Council Implementing Decision 2011/521/CFSP of 1 September 2011 implementing Decision 2011/137/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No.872/2011 of 1 September 2011 implementing Article 16(2) of Regulation (EU) No.204/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya

Legal base(a)  Article 31(1) TEU; QMV

(b)  Article 215 TFEU; QMV

DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM and Minister's letter of 5 September 2011
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (32817-9) —: HC 428-xxix, chapter 11 (8 June 2011); (32626) —: HC 428-xxii (2010-11), chapter 10 (30 March 2011); (32606) — and (32610) —: HC 428-xxi (2010-11), chapter 9 (23 March 2011) and (32546) — and (32549) —: HC 428-xviii (2010-11), chapter 12 (2 March 2011)
To be discussed in Council1 September 2011
Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared


20.1 On 23 February 2011 the European Union expressed its grave concern over the situation unfolding in Libya; strongly condemned the violence and use of force against civilians; deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators; and reiterated its call for an immediate end to the use of force and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population.[97]

20.2 On 26 February 2011, the UN Security Council adopted UNSCR 1970 (2011). Deploring what it called "the gross and systematic violation of human rights" in strife-torn Libya, the Security Council demanded an end to the violence and decided to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court while imposing an arms embargo on the country and a travel ban and assets freeze on the family of Muammar Al-Qadhafi and certain Government officials. It authorized all Member States to seize and dispose of military-related matériel banned by the text. It called on all Member States to facilitate and support the return of humanitarian agencies and make available humanitarian and related assistance in Libya and expressed its readiness to consider taking additional appropriate measures as necessary to achieve that.[98]

20.3 Sanctions in respect of Libya were first adopted on 26 February 2011 through the UN. Since then a number of additional measures have been adopted through the UN and EU.[99]

20.4 In our most recent Report, we cleared measures that allowed for the listing of 6 ports in western Libya — Tripoli, Zuwara, Zawia, Al Khoms, Ras Lanuf and Brega — all of which had infrastructure for importing or exporting liquid fuels under EU restrictive measures, while allowing for humanitarian imports and exports to continue and protecting prior contracts to mitigate the impact on business.

20.5 In his accompanying Explanatory Memorandum of 5 June 2011, the Minister said that these measures had been agreed by EU member states because was essential to keep the pressure up on the Qadhafi regime; listing these ports under EU measures, would prevent the use of the ports to EU flagged vessels, and provide a deterrent to non-EU flagged vessels which are insured by EU insurance companies. Designating ports would prevent oil coming directly or indirectly from Europe. Although the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC), with a virtual monopoly on exports and imports of crude oil and petroleum products from the regime-controlled parts of Libya, was subject to an asset freeze under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (covering imports and exports of oil and petroleum products by NOC and its subsidiaries, and any payments for such shipments), the asset freeze measures were not being fully enforced by all member states, so oil continued to flow to Libya. Experience of Côte d'Ivoire had shown that port listing provided a deterrent to EU flagged vessels, and to Protection and Indemnity Clubs (P&I) who insure non EU vessels which may be breaching sanctions; it was found that the members of the International P&I Group — mainly EU based — were reluctant to insure vessels (including non EU vessels) which breached port listing, and this measure in Libya would prevent a number of European and non European vessels using the ports. Listing the ports for all non-humanitarian imports/exports would, the Minister said, cause significant disruption for the Qadhafi regime and push them to focus on alternative options to gain imports/exports, which would take time and money.[100]

20.6 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 5 September 2011, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) describes the sanctions regime now in place as "a robust and extensive package of measures which imposed asset freezes on organisations in the banking, oil, ports and shipping sectors and targeted a wide range of individuals associated with the Qadhafi regime, through asset freeze and travel ban measures." He goes on to say that the Government's focus now is on

"refining, implementing and reviewing the regime to ensure it achieves the policy objectives as effectively as possible. Therefore we need to continue to ensure that the sanctions package is fit for purpose in terms of contributing to delivering our current policy objectives."

20.7 Against this background, the Minister then explains that two documents delisting 28 entities in Libya were adopted on 1 September:

—   Council Implementing Decision 2011/521/CFSP; and

—  Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 872/2011.

20.8 The Minister notes that the 28 entities include the six ports in western Libya — proposed by the UK — "in order to stimulate trade with Libya" and that:

—  at the request of the National Transitional Council (NTC), France proposed the delisting of 18 entities (banks, oil companies and an airline) and Germany a further four (oil companies) from the EU regime on an expedited timetable;

—  "the French in particular were keen to be able to announce the EU actions at the Libya Conference in Paris on 1 September."

20.9 The Minister says that the UK:

—  has taken every step to ensure that the entities delisted are under the control of the NTC and have met the criteria for delisting;

—  following these delistings, 27 entities and 39 persons involved in the serious human rights abuses in Libya remain subject to a freeze of their funds and financial resources in the European Union;

—  in addition, the same 39 persons, which include Muammar Qadhafi and several family members, are banned from entering the EU;

—  as the situation in Libya develops, the Government is considering the most effective sanctions response, and will work closely with partners to explore a range of options, from lifting, suspending and keeping , tailoring its response to the context.

The Government's view

20.10 The Minister then comments as follows:

"As the situation in Libya changes, we must respond quickly to the needs and requests of the NTC. Removing the sanctions is part of this response, and we are strongly committed to providing funds to the NTC as soon as possible.

"Balanced with this need the UK is advocating a cautious approach to de-listing. We are encouraging others to balance the needs of releasing assets that the NTC require quickly for the benefit of the Libyan people, with the risk of misappropriation.

"We want to ensure that, if sanctions are lifted institutions will be equipped to cope and there are no risks of assets falling into the wrong hands outside of the control of the NTC. Sanctions are designed to encourage change, so it is right that when the situation changes we look again at whether sanctions are still required."

The Minister's letter of 5 September 2011

20.11 The Minister regrets that, due to the pace of events in the EU, he has had to agree to the adoption of these documents before the Committee has considered them, but says that the need to override parliamentary scrutiny on this occasion was unavoidable; and also that, as developments in Libya continue, he will ensure that the Committee is aware of them and provide Explanatory Memoranda where appropriate.


20.12 We are reporting these further measures to the House because of the widespread interest in the situation in Libya.

20.13 We do not object to the Minister having agreed to their adoption ahead of scrutiny in these circumstances and on this occasion.

20.14 We now clear the documents.

97   See for the full text. Back

98   Full details of UN Security Council resolution 1970 (2011) are available at Back

99   The Committee's consideration of which are set out in our previous Reports; see headnote. Back

100   See headnote: see (32817-9) -: HC 428-xxix, (2010-12), chapter 11 (8 June 2011). Back

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Prepared 20 September 2011