EUObserver website said The European Union (EU) is firming up plans for a military mission to Libya in order to compete for influence with foreign powers there, according to a leaked paper seen by the website.
The website indicated on Monday that Libya's peace process required large-scale disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR) of combatants as well as a fundamental security sector reform (SSR)," citing the internal paper from the EU foreign service, dated July 01.
"In this context, an EU military Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) engagement should be considered in order not to leave the entire field of activity in the military domain to third states. In the long term and when conditions allow, a military CSDP engagement with a mandate to support the SSR process in the military domain should be considered." The document said.
The EU paper did allude to Turkey, when it said one "third country" had "continued denial of inspections" of suspected arms shipments to Libya in violation of a UN embargo.
The same country "maintains a strong military presence in Libya and provides training to selected armed forces in western Libya", especially Libya's coastguard and navy, it noted, after Turkey sent troops to Libya last year.
The EU report painted a worrying picture of Libya, saying there were still "many" foreign fighters in the country and that oil, arms, and human trafficking was going on unabated.
The EU is hoping to compete with Turkish influence among Libya's naval authorities by giving gifts with strings attached, the paper said, adding that the provision of equipment by Irini to the Libyan coast guard should be linked to the acceptance of associated EU training by the Libyan authorities
"Libyan authorities have expressed a need for EU support on Libya's borders, including in the south. Should the Libyan authorities agree, this may open the possibility of obtaining overflight rights for EU aerial surveillance assets over Libyan territory," in the southern desert." The paper remarked.
EUObserver said the EU member states' ambassadors were due to have discussed the report in the past two weeks, but the EU foreign service did not say if they took its proposals further.
The French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian echoed the leaked EU memo in a speech at the United Nations Security Council in New York on Thursday - 15 July - saying it is time to implement a progressive, symmetrical, and sequenced timetable for the departure of foreign elements from both sides in Libya.
"The European Union, Italy, and France are ready to do more to support the training and equipment of the Libyan coast guard." He added.