Joint Reply (31.5.2021)
The core task of Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI is to contribute to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya.
In accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 2292 (2016), paragraphs 3-6, and 2526 (2020), and Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/4721, naval assets are allowed to inspect and divert vessels going to or coming from Libya regarding which they have reasonable grounds to believe are carrying arms or related materiel to or from Libya, directly or indirectly, in violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya, and to seize and dispose of such arms and related materiel.
To date, the Operation has been able to carry out more than 2500 hailings, 103 friendly approaches and 11 inspections, to seize one cargo and deter one case of oil smuggling. In this regard, it is important to highlight that on 10 September 2020, on the basis of information from the UN Panel of Experts, Operation IRINI boarded and inspected a vessel (Royal Diamond 7) transporting jet fuel to Benghazi in violation of the UN arms embargo. The vessel was diverted to Greece for further inspection and seizure of the cargo. Operation IRINI has duly reported this inspection and subsequent actions to the UN Sanctions Committee. The Royal Diamond 7 was handed over to the Greek authorities on 17 September 2020. Its cargo was seized and the vessel released in mid- October. Since then, the fuel has been safely stored. Once judicial criminal proceedings have been completed, the fuel will be disposed of. Operation IRINI has so far not seized any other item.
Pursuant to Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/5422, the European Peace Facility Committee must decide, following a proposal from the EU Operation Commander, on the final destination of seized arms and related materiel, including storage, destruction or transfer inside the Union. However, in accordance with UNSCR 2292 (2016), the transfer of seized items outside the Union should be decided, on a proposal from the EU Operation Commander, by the Political and Security Committee (PSC), unless a Member State requests that the matter be referred to the Council. Such transfer of seized items outside the Union needs to respect the principles laid down in Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP3 and comply with applicable national rules and procedures on arms export controls; it must be subject to any conditions and safeguards established by the PSC or by the Council respectively, taking due account of the procedures laid down in Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/5094, in particular the risk and safeguards methodology; and it must not include military equipment, or platforms, designed to deliver lethal force.
The European Peace Facility will bear the costs for storage and disposal of arms and related materiel seized by EUNAVFOR MED IRINI within its Area of Operations, including costs related to the necessary port services. It is also required to bear the costs for any financial liability resulting from the diversion of a vessel or from subsequent actions related to the transportation, storage and disposal of seized items, except in cases of gross negligence or wilful misconduct by the Member State, or by any of its agents, assisting in such disposal. Any receipt accruing to a Member State from the disposal of seized arms and related materiel must be transferred to the European Peace Facility, taking due account of the relevant national administrative or judicial procedures in that Member State.
1 Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/472 of 31 March 2020 on a European Union military operation in the Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED IRINI) (OJ L 101, 1.4.2020, p. 4).
2 Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/542 of 26 March 2021 amending Decision (CFSP) 2020/472 on the European Union military operation in the Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED IRINI) (OJ L 108, 29.3.2021, p. 57).
3 Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment (OJ L 335, 13.12.2008, p. 99).
4 Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/509 of 22 March 2021 establishing a European Peace Facility, and repealing Decision (CFSP) 2015/528 (OJ L 102, 24.3.2021, p. 14).