The European Union has begun to work on possible sanctions against those blocking a political deal for Libya, foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday, although no immediate decision was expected.
The United Nations has been trying to broker an agreement between the internationally recognized parliament in Tobruk and a rival Islamist-leaning administration that controls the capital Tripoli.
With the talks dragging on, fears are mounting that the Islamic State extremist group is taking advantage of the political instability to establish itself in the northern African country.
The EU has long warned that it could use restrictive measures to put pressure on those hampering the formation of a new government, and last week French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he would recommend the move to his EU counterparts at talks in Brussels on Monday.
But UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler, who met with the ministers over lunch, said ahead of the talks that the question of sanctions is "not on the agenda" of the international assembly, and he would "not give any recommendation" on whether or not the EU should pursue this course of action.
Following their meeting, German State Minister Michael Roth said the issue had been discussed, but that no decision was taken.
"These sanctions have been on the table for a while. And that's where they still lie," Roth said.
Ayrault said the signal out of Monday's meeting was that there is "no time to lose" in forming a national unity government, adding that sanctions had been evoked as a "possibility" to reinforce that message.
"We see very clearly the need for Libya to have a government of national accord as soon as possible, to be able to tackle both the security [and] the humanitarian situation of the country," Mogherini said.
"We have also started our internal work to sanction individuals who are obstructing this internal Libyan process," she added.