Foreign Affairs Council
Ministers extend counter-piracy operation Atalanta
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Friday 23 March 2012
The EU’s counter-piracy operation EU Naval Force (NAVFOR) Atalanta will be extended until December 2014, the Council agreed, on 23 March. Ministers also concurred on the extension of its area of operations to include Somali coastal territory, as well as the country’s territorial and internal waters. The geographical extension of the mission will, according to the Council conclusions, enable the operation to work directly with the transitional federal government and other Somali entities to support their fight against piracy.The Somali government has agreed to the mission.
The Union will provide €14.9 million to pay for the extension of the mission, which aims at “tackling symptoms and root causes of piracy in the Horn of Africa”. High Representative Catherine Ashton noted that “despite pressure on defence budgets,” the EU member states demonstrated “their renewed commitment to this successful operation”.
HORN OF AFRICA OPERATIONS CENTRE
The Council also agreed to activate the EU Operations Centre in the Horn of Africa aimed at supporting the Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions in the area. The centre will be activated for an initial period of two years and will coordinate the three existing CSDP missions in the region – EU NAVFOR Atalanta, EU Training Mission (EUTM) Somalia and Regional Maritime Capacity Building (RMCB).
Activated for the first time, the Operations Centre should “provide direct support to the operations commander for the planning and conduct of the RMCB mission and facilitate coordination between EUTM and Operation Atalanta and their interaction with Brussels-based structures,” according to the Council. But the centre will not be granted command responsibility, which will remain the prerogative of the already existing chains of command: EU Military Staff (EUMS), Brussels-based support cell for the EUTM Somalia, liaison team of Operation Atalanta in Brussels, and staff seconded by member states.
The head of the EU Operations Centre will be Dutch Captain Ad van der Linde.
EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta was launched in December 2008 within the framework of the Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. It has four main objectives: deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast; protection of vessels of the World Food Programme and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM); protection of vulnerable shipping off the Somali coast on a case by case basis; and monitoring of fishing activities off the Somali coast.