Why does Libya not accept the ENP and its conditionality?

Term Paper, 2009

16 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Ilyas Saliba (Author)


Table of contents

1. Introduction
1.1 Puzzle and Approach
1.2 Hypothesis

2. Main Part
2.1 Theoretical background
2.2 EU - Libya Relations
2.2.1 Stakes and interests in the Policy Fields of Oil and Migration
2.2.2 Formal Relations
2.2.3 Outlook on future cooperation

3. Conclusion
3.1 The Dilemma of interdependence
3.2 Critical perspective on the ENP

4. Appendix
4.1 Bibliography

1. Introduction

1.1 Puzzle and Approach

The ENP includes all neighboring states of the European Union except the Russian Federation - No not all are included - there is one state that is neither a member of the ENP nor of any other formal or legal multilateral framework agreement with the EU - this is the Great Socialist People`s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Why is Libya the only neighbor state of the European Union that is not part of any legalized continuous process of interaction with the Union and what are the reasons? In order to find an answer to this question, in the following we will on the one hand draw the attention to the existing instruments for legal partnership agreements of the Unions external governance like the ENP or the Barcelona Process. Especially the policy instruments and the underlying theoretical assumptions of the ENP will be questioned in this part. On the other hand our emphasis will be to highlight the two-way interdependency between the EU and Libya as a reason for the non-participation of Libya in any of the existing institutionalized frameworks.

1.2 Hypothesis

With the Puzzle described above as a starting point the argument, that the relation between the EU and Libya is different to that of the EU and any other of its neighboring states, will be enfolded. Thinking the Unions external governance as a „rationalist bargaining model“ (Schimmelfennig/ Sedelmeier 2004, p. 663) we will show that the bargaining position of Libya towards the EU is stronger than that of all ENP member states. The missing power-asymmetry between the Union and its neighbor in the case of Libya will then be pointed out as the main reason for the nonparticipation of Libya in the ENP or any other legal framework.

This leads to the hypothesis, that Libya does not participate in any formal or legal foreign policy program by the EU, because the power relations in the bargaining process are not asymmetrical enough as to enable the Union to impose instruments of conditionality on Libya. Bound to the former is the argument, that the ENP as a foreign policy is insufficient to formalize the relations between the Union and Libya and therefore is even more insufficient as a stimulus for political reform.

2. Main Part

2.1 Theoretical background

The main theoretical foundation of the ENP and its instruments base on a „rationalist bargaining model“ (Schimmelfennig/Sedelmeier 2004: P. 663). The rationale of the ENP conditionality lies in offering ,carrots‘ for progress and sanctioning non-progress with ,sticks‘. The point of reference in terms of accomplishing the formerly agreed goals are formulated in the so called ,Action Plans‘individually formulated for and with each ENP associate country.

This not only highlights the new importance that the Union gives to the principle of conditionality regarding its foreign policy strategy (cf. Schimmelfennig/Sedelmeier 2004: p. 663) but also displays the Unions focus on bilateral agreements with its neighbors (cf. Smith 2004: p. 762) instead of the formerly more multilateral and regional approaches. The new dimension with regards to contents of the ENP as a european foreign policy is the importance that has been given to political issues in the associate agreements (cf. Smith 2004: p. 765).

To successfully impose this conditionality on its neighbors and offer external incentives for domestic political reform bilateral agreements are a lot more favorable for the EU than multilateral arenas like for example the Union for the Mediterranean (cf. Del Sarto/Schumacher 2005: p. 27f.). Within bilateral agreements with its neighbors the „Interdependence is highly asymmetrical in favor of the EU“ (Schimmelfennig/Sedelmeier 2004: p. 665). This increases as Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier put it; the credibility of the Unions conditionality. Although they formulate also other criteria for successful rule transfer through the principles of conditionality, our emphasis in the following shall lie on the asymmetrical interdependence aspect, as it maybe best explains the nonparticipation of Libya within any legalized framewo]rk with the EU.

Drawing back to the formerly formulated hypothesis and the theoretical foundation of the ENP conditionality as a rational bargaining model, our suggestion would be that the bargaining position between Brussels and Tripoli is not as asymmetrical as with other ENP associate states but more on an eye-to-eye basis, maybe even comparable to the relations between the EU and Russia. From a realist perspective this could explain why, despite the improving relationship with Europe, Libya has so far refused to build up any formerly bound ties with the EU which included interference within the domestic political domain. One quickly asks what makes Libya's bargaining position towards the EU so different to those of any other neighbor of the Union?

In the following part of this essay we will try to enlighten, our now theoretically classified hypothesis and the question stated above, through turning our attention to a short empirical example of the bargaining and power relations between Libya and the EU.

2.2 EU - Libya Relations

When looking at the nearby history of Libya and its foreign relations one can observe a development of re-emerging to the international scene along with a process of re-integration into the international community (cf. Joffé 2009; Mateos 2009; Hinz 2004: p. 331ff.; Vandewalle 2007: p. 175ff.). Roughly one can pin the emerging of these developments with the turn of the millennium. A milestone in this was taking „Responsibility for the action of Libyan officials in the Lockerbie affair“ as the libyan foreign secretary put it in a letter to the UN in August 2003. Another turning point was marked by the agreement of abandoning its WMD program followed by a successful disarmament at the end of 2004. These events led to „a ,normalization‘ of relations between Europe and Libya“ (Lutterbeck 2009: p. 169). The end of the re-emerging process was marked by the lifting of all formerly installed sanctions and embargoes towards Libya from the US, the EU and the UN (cf. St John 2008). The re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the US and the EU was most notably observable through visits by several heads of state from european countries and state visits of colonel Muamar Qaddafi to France and Italy in 2009.

Taking this rapid re-integration development into account we will proceed first by analyzing the economic and political interests and bargaining power relations between the EU and Libya in the two policy fields of oil and migration. Followed by displaying the so far in place formalized ties and relations between the Union and particular member states with Libya. In a third step, a brief outlook on actual developments for a contractual framework agreement between Brussels and Tripoli, will be given.

2.2.1 Stakes and interests in the Policy Fields of Oil and Migration

The two, probably most important policy issues, for Brussels concerning the relations to Tripoli are oil and migration (cf. Werenfels 2008: p. 190). Although there are other fields of interests for the EU as for example the fight against terrorism. In the following we will draw the attention to the first two issue areas as stated in the heading of this part.

Libya is not only Europe's third most important oil supplier but also plays a major role in abolishing the Unions dependence on russian gas, since the country holds about 1.3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas (cf. Mateos 2009: p. 443). The dimension of Libya's oil reserves is currently estimated at about 30 billion barrels (cf. Mateos 2009: p. 443). In parts these facts already contribute to foster our argument that Libya's bargaining position in negotiations with Brussels is stronger and more equal than that of other neighbors due to the Unions dependence on Libya's natural resources. Particularly since Russia, the most important energy supplier for the EU, is „increasingly seen as unreliable energy partner which might exploit Europe's energy dependence for political purposes.“ (Lutterbeck 2009: p. 177). The cut off, of oil and gas supplies to Ukraine and Belarus have indicated that using the energy dependency of other states for political purposes is no taboo to the russian administrative. This situation strengthens Tripoli`s bargaining position towards Brussels. In sum, the Unions dependency on the natural resources of Libya, especially in light of a strategy to avoid falling into an even stronger dependency on the Russian Federation, gives Tripoli a very strong bargaining position in negotiations with the EU. Concerning natural resources the Union`s strategic and economic dependancy on Libya is immense. This enables Libya to claim that it will not enter a cooperation agreement that includes any political reform conditions for itself.

As argued above, in terms of natural resources, a high dependancy towards Libya is obvious, but does this supply Tripoli with enough bargaining power to withstand the pressure exerted by the Union and its neighbors, to enter the ENP? There are other important issue areas for the EU wherein one can suggest a need for cooperation with Libya. As we will show in the following another important field of interest for the EU`s foreign policy is migration.

Just how important this issue is to the EU - Libya relations shows the following: „in recent years, the migration issue has become a key factor in the relationship between the EU and Libya. Since 2002, Libya has emerged as one of the most important transit countries for irregular migrants destined for Europe.“ (Lutterbeck 2009: p. 170). Nearly all of the so called ,illegal immigrants‘ arriving in Europe on Sicily or Malta, are considered to have destined Africa from Libya (cf. Simon 2006). At least since the latest EU enlargement, security of the Union`s boarders played a major role in its foreign policy, particularly towards the southern mediterranean neighbors. Not for nothing immigration is one of the top policy priorities within the Union for the Mediterranean. Not only within this multilateral network immigration is a high priority issue to the EU but also within the bilateral agreements between the Union and its southern partners within the ENP. In addition to that some southern european states, most affected by migration flows from the southern mediterranean neighbors, also have bilateral agreements with their african neighbors on for example joint boarder controls. Furthermore the migration issue is also high on the agenda within the informal 5+5 dialogue network. It is striking, that the effected european countries use institutional frameworks on all levels to tackle the issue of migration. Given these circumstances the importance of the issue, especially to the southern european countries, but hence for the EU as a whole can be recognized.

Besides the stated above 5+5 dialogue Libya is neither a member of the Union for the Mediterranean nor does it take part in the ENP. For the european countries this makes the migration issue in negotiations with Libya an even more important issue as with other southern mediterranean neighbors, since there are no institutionalized agreements of overarching networks in place with Libya so far. Whilst, there are no formalized ties in place with Libya, the EU`s cooperation with Libya on migration control have been rather limited. As one can conclude from the numbers of migrants departing from Libya towards Europe and their main routes, this is particularly important for Italy. Therefore it is not surprising that „Italy has been most active in seeking to engage with Libya in this area. Within the EU, Italy was also the main driving force behind the lifting of the EU arms embargo against Libya in 2004.“ (Lutterbeck 2009: p. 171). The lifting of the weapons- embargo enabled Italy and the EU to provide Libya with military equipment to foster its boarder security. In 2005 an EU funding of 2 million EUR for securing Libya`s southern boarders, was approved by the European Commission, due to the fact that the migration flows towards Europe mainly transit Libya (cf. Hamood 2008; Lutterbeck 2009). On top of that since 2003 Italy signed a number of cooperation agreements regarding this topic with Libya, including the installation of joint naval patrols along the Libyan coastline and the setting up of a joint command centre in Libya to improve the coordination of border control activities (cf. Lutterbeck 2009: p. 173f.).

In sum one can conclude, that migration is a high priority issue for the EU and Libya, as a main transit country regarding migration flows towards Europe, is an indispensable partner to tackle the European problems occurring through illegal migration. Especially since the strategy of the Union concentrated on taking measures against migration towards Europe already on the north african territories. This, as well as the fact that Libya is the only Mediterranean country with whom the EU does not have any formal agreements in place, that could be used to improve cooperation on the issue of migration, contributes to the importance and dependency of Brussels towards Tripoli whilst finding solutions to the European migration issue.

Both policy areas displayed above, show that the relations between Libya and the EU are marked through a high interdependency on both sides. Even though in the former part we emphasised the dependency of the EU towards Libya to highlight the difference between Libya and other ENP states, it has not yet explicitly been addressed that of course the EU is the most important trading partner for Libya and that Libya is in need for expertise to for example improve and rise its depletion of the national natural resources. Taking the Unions dominant economic, military and normative power into account we come to the conclusion, that the EU-Libya relations can be seen as a two way interdependency. What makes this finding so important? It simply shows that the relation between the EU and Libya is not determined by a highly asymmetrical power and bargaining relation in favour of the EU as with nearly all ENP member states. Taking this finding on another explanatory level we argue, that the described special relation can at least partly explain why Libya is the only state neighbouring the Union that is not a member nor a partner in any regional formal foreign policy network by the EU that includes conditionality.


Excerpt out of 16 pages


Why does Libya not accept the ENP and its conditionality?
University of Hamburg  (Institut für Politikwissenschaft)
„The European Neighbourhood Policy - Mere Window Dressing or Real Stimulus for Democratic Reform?“
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Politikwissenschaft, Politik, Europäische Sicherheitspolitik, Europäische Aussenpolitik, European Neighbourhood Policy, Libyen, Ghaddafi, Internationale Beziehungen, International Relations, Libya, Qhaddafi, Thema Libyen
Quote paper
Ilyas Saliba (Author), 2009, Why does Libya not accept the ENP and its conditionality? , Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/139220


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