Lebanon: statement by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on the situation in the country

The European Union and its Member States remain deeply concerned about the severe socio-economic crisis in Lebanon and its impact on all vulnerable populations in Lebanon. The national currency has lost almost all of its pre-crisis value, four in five people now live in poverty and electricity is only available occasionally. This situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the food and energy crisis resulting from the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

While there have been some positive developments, including the signing of a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on April 7 and the timely holding of parliamentary elections on May 15, many challenges remain for the Lebanese authorities to overcome this unprecedented crisis. vanquish. Implementing long-awaited economic and governance reforms, as part of a full-fledged IMF program, must be a top priority. Such a program is the only viable and credible solution to help Lebanon stabilize its economy, restore confidence and provide the country with the help it needs to finally embark on the path of recovery and growth. The adoption of such a program requires the swift approval by the competent Lebanese authorities of the necessary measures set out in the staff-level agreement reached on April 7.

After the parliamentary elections on May 15 and the nomination of Najib Mikati as prime minister on June 23, government formation is now imperative. Parliament, the president and the new government must make the necessary decisions to tackle the unprecedented crisis in the country. Compliance with the constitutional calendar is also essential in the organization of the presidential and subsequent municipal elections.

The EU is determined to continue to encourage and support Lebanon to take the necessary steps to get out of this crisis. On 26 July, the Council adopted the decision to extend the framework for targeted restrictive measures to address the situation in Lebanon for a year. This framework provides the possibility to impose individual sanctions (travel ban and asset freeze) on persons and entities responsible for undermining democracy or the rule of law in Lebanon by persistently obstructing the formation of a government or holding elections seriously undermine, implement critical economic reforms, or are responsible for serious financial misconduct, including corruption. The situation in Lebanon is continuously monitored. The decision to extend the framework aims to avoid risks of further deterioration of the situation and to find a way out of the crisis.

The EU and its Member States also recall that on August 4, two years have passed since the devastating explosion in the port of Beirut, which killed more than 220. For the sake of justice and accountability, the Lebanese authorities must now allow the investigation into this tragedy, which has been repeatedly hampered and delayed, to resume and deliver results, without interfering.

The Lebanese authorities and the international community must continue to work together on the complex and challenging issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The EU and its Member States commend Lebanon’s generosity, but call on the Lebanese authorities to avoid division and to act constructively on this issue. They reiterate their position that international humanitarian law and the principle of non-refoulement as defined by UNHCR should be respected. The EU and its Member States will continue their efforts to address the root causes of the refugee and displacement crisis in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254, so that Syrian refugees can return home voluntarily, in a safe and dignified manner, according to the UNHCR standards. In Syria, the conditions for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees and displaced persons, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) are still not met. It is therefore up to the Syrian regime to act in this regard to create such conditions.

The EU and its Member States welcome discussions between Lebanon and Israel on the demarcation of their maritime border. A negotiated settlement would contribute to the stability and prosperity of the region. We encourage the parties to cooperate constructively and in good faith.

The EU and its Member States remain determined to continue to assist Lebanon in this hour of need. Since 2011, the EU has provided support worth around €2 billion, of which more than €1 billion is dedicated to addressing the impact of the Syrian crisis in Lebanon, by supporting refugees from Syria and vulnerable Lebanese. The EU has recently stepped up its commitments in the country with €20 million in additional humanitarian funding and €25 million in food security and resilience. We encourage other like-minded partners in the international community to work constructively together to help Lebanon emerge from its crisis. However, it is essential that the Lebanese leaders put the interests of the Lebanese first and implement the necessary reforms with the utmost urgency.

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