The EU’s political and security committee agreed to phase out the Mediterranean migrant rescue Operation Sophia‘s mandate during a prolonged six-month period.
All will depend on the final confirmation from member states. Italy had threatened to halt the mission unless rescued migrants were taken to other countries.
But after Tuesday’s meeting of the political and security committee, the European Union’s mission will no longer deploy naval ships in a decision aimed at resolving a dispute with Italy over where rescued asylum seekers disembark. It was also decided that the training of the Libyan coastguard will continue under the scaled-down program.
Negotiations in Brussels resulted in the operation being granted another six month mission without the two remaining navy ships in service but with strengthened air surveillance in return and relying on closer coordination with Libya.
Unless EU member states disagree with the suspension, the revised mission will continue from April 1.
Operation Sophia was already given one interim extension of three months in December as EU countries disagreed on a longer commitment. Sophia is believed to have saved 45,000 people’s lives since it began in 2015.