- Title: NATO, EU, discuss stronger cooperation to tackle migration, human trafficking
- Date: 27th October 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 27, 2016) (REUTERS) SPANISH DEFENCE MINISTER, PEDRO MORENES EULATE, ARRIVING
- Embargoed: 11th November 2016 09:27
- Keywords: NATO
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: NATO,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00555S5JYF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: NATO member states defence ministers were to agree on Thursday (October 27) on a wider role for the Alliance to help the European Union tackle the flow of migrants arriving on its shores in particular through the Mediterranean Sea.
The European Union launched its 'Operation Sophia' in 2015 in response to the migrants crisis, with a mandate to disrupt the people trafficking networks and destroy smugglers' boats.
"We have discussed ways in which NATO can support 'Operation Sophia' in the Mediterranean and we'll discuss also this with the ministers today. We have, at the moment, talked about information sharing and support in logistics. Let me by the way say that just today we are starting the training of the Libyan coastguard in operation Sophia which is a very important step," said the EU's Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, who was participating in the meeting in Brussels.
EU ministers had agreed in May to help rebuild Libya's shattered navy and coastguard to tackle migrant smugglers after a plea for aid from the new U.N.-backed unity government in Tripoli.
Ministers said NATO's support would help counter arms and human trafficking, but denied the move was a step forward to a European army.
"Today, we will especially emphasise that it is important to not create double structures. I will once again make it clear that it is not about a European army but about a European security and defence union that can carry out military-civil missions. In that respect, a strong European Union is also in the interest of NATO," German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.
The Sophia mission operates in international waters near Libya, but is too far out to destroy boats used by people smugglers, catch traffickers or head off migrants trying to reach Europe by sea from Libya.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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