EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels have called for an immediate end to the violence in Libya but stopped short of sanctions against Tripoli.
Instead their attention focussed on providing support for those countries in the grip of unrest to manages a peaceful transition to democratic government.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague was adamant. “ If we don’t succeed in that then the dangers to the European Union of instability or extremism on our frontiers are immense so it is a historic opportunity for the EU but a real historic responsibility as well.”
Despite the bloodshed in Libya, Italy leads a group of southern EU states wanting to avoid antagonising Tripoli over its threat to halt cooperation on migration policies.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said:
“Italy is a first destination country where potentially an enormous number of migrants could make for….dozens of people who, due to disasters, chaos or violence could flood on to its shores.”
Thousands have already fled their home countries as the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt.
More than 5,000 of them have arrived in Italy.
An EU proposal to fund infrastructure and development in the unstable nations is being planned to prevent further long term migration.