Brussels 11.05.2021 The EU, Japan and Djibouti carried out a trilateral joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Aden for the first time on May 10. The exercise came after an EU-Japan joint naval exercise and joint port call on Djibouti last October, and after the adoption last month of an EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which called for more such joint activities to promote maritime security in the region. Japan welcomes the Strategy as a sign of the EU’s strong commitment to its engagement in the Indo-Pacific. (Image: illustration).
Based on the scenario of an anti-piracy operation, the 10 May exercise involved EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta flagship, frigate Carabiniere, EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer Setogiri, and Djibouti Navy and Coast Guard patrol boats. The exercise lasted approximately 20 hours and also included cross-deck helicopter landings, tactical evolutions at sea and a night-time joint patrol.
The EU, Japan and Djibouti remain committed to maintaining the rules-based international order, including through practical maritime cooperation on freedom of navigation and overflight, in order to secure the safety of maritime routes, protect the world’s maritime domain from all traditional and non-traditional threats, and enhance prosperity through peaceful and stable oceans. Together with other partners, the EU, Japan and Djibouti will further contribute to maintaining and strengthening the stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development of the region.
The Council today adopted a decision allowing for the creation of a crime information cell within EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. The information cell will be composed of up to 10 staff members from relevant law enforcement authorities of member states and from the EU agencies FRONTEX and EUROPOL in order to improve information sharing between them.
The cell will be tasked to facilitate the receipt, collection and transmission of information on human smuggling and trafficking, the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya, illegal trafficking, as well as crimes relevant to the security of the operation itself.
EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia is the EU naval operation set up to disrupt the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean. Since the beginning of the active phase of the operation (October 2015), the operation has contributed to the arrest and transfer to the Italian authorities of 143 suspected smugglers and traffickers, and has neutralised 545 vessels. In addition, the operation has helped rescue 44251 lives.
The operation has also a number of supporting tasks:
- training the Libyan Coastguard and Navy, and monitor the trainees to ensure the long-term efficiency of this training,
- contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2292 (2016) and 2357 (2017) and
- conducting surveillance activities and gather information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2146 (2014) and 2362 (2017).
The operation was launched on 22 June 2015 and its current mandate runs until 31 December 2018. EUNAVFOR MED’s Operation Commander is Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, from Italy. The headquarters of the mission are located in Rome.
25.07 2017. Brussels. The Council extended the mandate of the EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia until 31 December 2018. EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia is the EU naval operation disrupting the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean. The operation has two supporting tasks: training the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2292 (2016) and 2357 (2017).
The Council also amended the operation’s mandate to:
- set up a monitoring mechanism of trainees to ensure the long-term efficiency of the training of the Libyan Coastguard;
- conduct new surveillance activities and gather information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2146 (2014) and 2362 (2017);
- enhance the possibilities for sharing information on human trafficking with member states’ law enforcement agencies, FRONTEX and EUROPOL.
“Two years ago, the European Union’s member states decided unanimously to tackle together one of the most despicable crimes of our times – the trafficking of human beings – by establishing EUNAVFOR Med – Operation Sophia. Many suspected smugglers have been apprehended and many lives saved in the Mediterranean Sea, and since last year our women and men serving under the European flag have been also training the Libyan Coastguard and enforcing the arms embargo on the high seas off the coasts of Libya. Today, I’m particularly proud to announce that the mandate of Operation Sophia has been unanimously renewed and again with additional tasks”, said the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini.
“As a matter of priority, we will start in the coming days the revision of the operational plan in order to include the new tasks, such as the mechanism for monitoring the Libyan Coastguard and Navy activities post training, and to strengthen the effectiveness of the mission and the shared responsibility among member states”, she added.
The operation Sophia has been under criticism suggesting it encourages the migrants to attempt the dangerous journey to Europe by the Mediterranean Sea in hope they would be picked by the EU vessels, and brought to Italian shores. The law of the sea is imperative about saving any human being in peril – the activity Sophia has been carrying out with rigor, saving lives of all migrants in dinky boats.
Anna van Densky, OPINION
While the EU-Turkey migrant deal is on the rocks, with President Erdogan claiming political refugees all over Europe, and jailing thousands of journalists and critics at home, EU’s left and centre-right politicians prefer to criticise President’s Trump ban on migrants from seven countries at high risk of jihadists infiltrations.
The passions about Mr.Trump fulfillment of his political project looks slightly misplaced within the context of current cacophony of proposals concerning the solution of migrant crisis in Europe itself.
The EU-Turkish deal has been marked with controversy right from the start: if it is legal in the framework on international laws, and if it can be a comprehensive solution of the problem. Both questions were always left without a sound answer.
However, next to Turkish migrant route problem, partially addressed, and generously footed by taxpayers, there is a chronic problem of flows from Africa via Libya to Italy and Malta, remaining unresolved due to the fragmentation of the country after Colonel Gaddafi assassination five years ago.
The ‘failed’ state ol Libya at the doorstep of Europe, ‘the worst mistake’ of Obama’s presidency became a playground for various terroristic group, and traffickers, representing high risk for European security, is still awaiting for a comprehensive solution. Seven European vessels and four helicopters of EU naval operation Sophia are not coherent with the scale of the task: there are between 16 to 20 million displaced on African continent, according to the UN, entitled to claim refugee status in Europe. The southern Europe
is increasingly burdened with the new arrivals, appealing to relocate them among EU member-states.
The ongoing Maltese presidency of the EU continues still calls for solidarity among the EU member-states to relocate migrants, however these appeal does not meet many enthusiasts, while anti-mass migration political forces gain strength.
The eurosceptic parties regard President’s Trump policies on restricting migration as a model to follow in case their ascendency to power.
While loudly criticising President Trump for acting up to the expectations of his electorate, the European politicians presume that their own citizens share their views. The polls profiling Front National leader Marin le Pen as a front-runner for the presidency of France show otherwise.
On 24 January 2017, the High Representative Federica Mogherini met in Brussels with the United Nations Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, Martin Kobler.
Two top ranking international civil servants Federica Mogherini and Martin Kobler exchanged views on the political and security situation in Libya, and on the regional initiatives to support a political, inclusive solution in the country. According to EU diplomats there were no suggestions for similar to EU-Turkey migrant deal.
Mogherini updated the Kobler on the EU’s efforts to tackle the challenges of irregular migration along the Central Mediterranean Route, which focus on saving lives at sea and tackling traffickers and smugglers. HR underlined the importance of assisting migrants, including with their protection, and by engaging with both Libyan authorities and international organisations to improve the conditions of migrants inside Libya.
In this regard Mogherini also updated the UN Special Representative Kobler on the training of the Libyan Coast Guard by EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. In spite of the cheerful tone of both civil servants there is no effective solutions proposed to resolve the problem of migrants flows from Africa.
Fabrice Leggeri, head of Frontex called for urgent need of intense political and diplomatic efforts to change the situation in .
The EU is looking forward to Malta presidency for finding consensus on common European asylum policy. Today’s Summit reconfirmed its committment to EU-Turkey agreement on migration, and pledged to continue supporting countries along Western Balkans migration route. The enhancement of EUNAVFOR operation Sophia in Mediterranean next to Libyan coast to block the business of smugglers remains in focus.
‘The effective application of the principles of responsibility and solidarity remains a shared objective. Sustained efforts over the past months to review the Common European Asylum System have shown some areas of convergence, while other areas require further work. Building on this work, the Council is invited to continue the process with the aim of achieving consensus on the EU’s asylum policy during the incoming Presidency’ (source: European Council)
On 25 November 2016, the Council extended the mandate of the operation EUNAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta until 31 December 2018. The Council also allocated to the operation a budget of EUR 11.064 million from the so-called common costs.
The European Union Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta was launched in December 2008 to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. The operation is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach for a peaceful, stable and democratic Somalia.
The operation also protects vessels of the World Food Programme and other vulnerable shipping, monitors fishing activities off the coast of Somalia and supports other EU missions and programmes in the region