EU foreign ministers agreed yesterday to allow its member countries to ban export of inflatable boats and outboards to Libya in order to stem migrant smuggling across the Mediterranean. The ministers issued a statement saying exports could be halted "where there are reasonable grounds to believe that they will be used by people smugglers and human traffickers."

The possible ban does not include sales to fishermen and others with a legitimate need for the boats and motors. The restrictions will also apply to boats and motors which are passing through the EU on their way to Libya.

In the first six months of 2017, about 85,000 people who left Northern Africa landed in Italy, according to EU border agency Frontex.

EU ministers also agreed to extend the EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya until the end of 2018, and they stressed the EU’s Operation Sophia, which aims to disrupt smugglers in the Mediterranean and also trains the Libyan coast guard and navy to reduce human trafficking.