In April, Hanne Beirens, director of the Migration Policy Institute appeared on Terzake, a news show aired by the Flemish public broadcast organisation. As she and the television host discussed migrants drowning near the Libyan coast, Beirens mentioned that “Europe gave 700 million euros to Libya in the last six years.” That claim is mostly true.
Director Hanne Beirens used a fact sheet from the European Commission that combines all the funds Europe has used to support Libya. “In total, the EU has devoted around 700 million euros in support to Libya during 2014-2020 under various funding instruments, including the EU trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), the humanitarian assistance (ECHO) and the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP)”, the fact sheet mentions.
The biggest funding tool according to the fact sheet is the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. It’s mainly used to support migration related issues in Libya. Libya is the country that benefits the most of the EUTF Africa. They claim that the fund mobilized 435 million euros so far.
“More than half goes to protection and assistance to migrants, refugees and internally displaced people and one third goes to stabilization of Libyan municipalities.” According to the European Commission fact sheet, the remaining thirteen percent goes to integrated border management.
The fact sheet from the European Commission only shows the operation of the EU Trust Fund for Africa. When we look into the numbers, we can see that the total amount of money of the Fund is 455 million instead of 435 million. Why do the numbers on the European Commission’s fact sheet not add up? We contacted the official institutions and they confirmed that 435 million is a wrong number.
On an official European Commission website, we found three other important funding streams. The first one is the European Neighbourhood Instrument, a bilateral corporation with Libya. This fund mainly focuses on the unstable political situation and has mobilized 98 million euros.
The second funding system is ‘humanitarian assistance’. Libya struggles with humanitarian difficulties and the EU tries to help. The Union has allocated 75.3 million euros since 2011.
The last fund is the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, Libya received 38.9 million euros from this funding stream. This number is based on the funding systems that ended, there are still ongoing funding streams. As you can see, it is very difficult to allocate the 700 million euros that went to Libya in the last six years.
When we combine the four funding systems, we can conclude that Libya received 667.2 million euros since 2011 from Europe. Although we found a good overview of all the funding streams that flow to Libya, there is a lot of confusion and the claim that Director Beirens made does not add up.
New figures appear
In order to solve this problem, we contacted the European Commission. The Commission’s secretariat provided updated figures via e-mail. As we described before, the Emergency Fund for Africa contains 455 million euros. The figure corresponding to the European Neighbourhood Instrument is about 97.7 million euros. Libya received 55.3 million euros in humanitarian aid and the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace contains 90 million euros. With the new numbers, there is a total of 698.2 million euros. To be clear, these figures talk about the period between 2014 and 2020.
Although the figures are very confusing in this case, Director Beirens did not spread false information. But she is not exactly right either.
Firstly, the amount of money that Libya received from the European Union is around 700 million. The exact figure is 698.2 million euros, but the European institutions round up the figures when they communicate these numbers to a bigger audience.
Secondly, when Beirens talked about the period in which Libya received the funds, she talked about the last six years. The fact sheet talks about the period between 2014 and 2020, which is indeed six years. However, she implied that the figures on the fact sheet included 2021, which is not true.
This factcheck shows that a lot of the figures on official EU websites and fact sheets are not up to date or hard to understand. This seemingly contradicts the guidelines of the new European policy that mention more transparency and more evidence-based policymaking. With the start of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum in September 2020, the Commissioner of Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, repeated the new found transparency that will be used by the European Commission, according to Hanne Beirens in her response to a request for more information.
In conclusion, the claim made by Director of the of the Migration Policy Institute Hanne Beirens is mostly true. In the end, we found out that the figures are correct, but Beirens did not exactly talk about the right period of years.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Janvière Bitwayiki Uwera and Danai Deblaere, Artevelde University of Applied Sciences Gent, Belgium
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