Prime Minister David Cameron has updated the House of Commons on Friday's special European Council meeting on Libya and the Middle East.
The special European Council was convened on Friday to address the situation in Libya and more broadly to ensure Europe seized the “moment of opportunity” to support aspirations for more open and democratic forms of government in North Africa and the Middle East.
Speaking in Parliament, the PM said the Council had addressed both these issues but said Europe needs to follow through on its declaration with a “real and credible offer to these countries based on three of the key freedoms - movement of goods, services and investment”.
On Libya, Mr Cameron said there had been considerable international co-operation on evacuations and they had now evacuated over 600 British nationals and assisted over 30 other nationalities.
On further isolating the Qadhafi regime, the PM said the Council had made good progress agreeing to widen the restrictive measures against individuals close to Qadhafi and strengthen financial sanctions on the regime.
EU leaders also agreed to “examine all necessary options” for protecting the Libyan civilian population, provided there is a “demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region”.
The PM said:
…we need to continue to win the argument for a strong response in the international community - Europe included.
Along with others in the United Nations Security Council, the UK is following up urgently the lead given by the Arab League by drafting a Resolution which sets out the next measures that need to be taken, including the option of a no-fly zone.
Mr Cameron concluded that Britain would remain at the forefront of Europe in leading the response to this crisis.
It is in our interests to see the growth of open societies and the building blocks of democracy in North Africa and the Middle East
And when it comes to Libya we should be clear about what is happening.
We have seen the uprising of a people against a brutal dictator and it will send a dreadful signal if their legitimate aspirations are crushed, not least to others striving for democracy across the region.
Statements and articles: Statement from the PM on Japan and the Middle East
Previous story: PM attends European Council