The European Union (EU) counter-piracy Operation Atalanta off the Somali coast has been extended by two more years to December 12, 2016.
The Operation’s main focus is the protection of World Food Programme (WFP) vessels delivering humanitarian aid to Somalia and the deterrence, repression and disruption of piracy off the Somali coast. In addition, Operation Atalanta contributes to the monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia.
Despite significant progress achieved off the coast of Somalia since the operation was launched in 2008 it is widely recognised that the threat from piracy remains; “the pirate business model is fractured but not broken” according to the EU Naval Force (EU Navfor).
The EU Council has added a number of secondary tasks to the Operation’s mandate. The EU Naval Force will now contribute, within existing means and capabilities, more widely to the EU’s comprehensive approach to Somalia, including in support of the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa. It will also be able to contribute to other relevant international community activities helping to address the root causes of piracy in Somalia.
In this respect, the operation could, for example, provide logistical support, expertise or training at sea for other EU actors, in particular the EU mission on regional maritime capacity building (EUCAP Nestor). In addition, Operation Atalanta can also support the EU Training Mission (EUTM) Somalia.
“EU Operation Atalanta has helped considerably in reducing piracy off the Somali coast. We must maintain the pressure on pirates to ensure security in the Horn of Africa. This is in our mutual interest. The EU Naval Force will now also contribute to addressing the root causes of piracy,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said.
The common costs of EU Naval Force for the two years 2015 and 2016 are estimated at €14.7 million.
The operation is currently commanded by Major General Martin Smith MBE of the UK Royal Marines. Together with 21 EU member states, two non-EU countries currently contribute to Operation Atalanta.
To date this year the force has recorded five incidents of piracy, four of which were classified as “suspicious events” and only one in February this year, in the Somali Basin, was rated as an “attack”.
The busiest year for EUNavFor was 2011 when 166 suspicious events were recorded. This dropped to 73 in 2012 and a further drop to 20 was recorded last year.