France and the United Kingdom have agreed to seek UN approval for such military action while tasking EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to come up with an action plan proposal to “capture and destroy the smugglers’ vessels before they can be used.”
In practice, however, achieving such a goal is easier said than done since it involves military action in another country — Libya in this case. It could have serious unforeseen legal and political repercussions, and it could well play into the hands of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Sirte, central Libya, which is likely to be linked to migrant smugglers.
It is not going to be easy since smugglers only use regular boats, such as fishing boats, which lack specific features to clearly identify them as being used for smuggling people, unless they are identified at the very moment of immigrants going on board. Pinpointing such boats before they set sail from Libyan shores would be a nearly impossible task.
Europe seems to ignore, when considering solutions to the flood of illegal immigrants, the fact that major EU countries including France and the United Kingdom helped destroy Libya when they led the military campaign against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in 2011, which has brought chaos to Libya ever since.
French President Francois Hollande hinted at the issue just as he arrived in Brussels. Hollande was quoted as saying, “We need to fix our past mistakes in Libya," clearly referring to the Franco-British rush into military action in Libya in March 2011 in support of the rebels fighting the Libyan government, despite the warning by the late Libyan leader of the consequences.