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A Breton tuna boat escapes pirates near Somalia, the EU is feeling its way

(B2) A French tuna boat from Concarneau, the Drennec was attacked on Saturday morning by two pirate speedboats while 420 miles off the Somali coast in international waters. The captain of the boat, with ingenuity, was able to escape the pirates. Without breakage, despite four rocket attacks from the pirates. But no help either.  "We reported the attack, says Patrick Hélies the boss of Drennec, and we asked that we send at least one plane to follow the pirates. We are told that it is not possible”. All the details in West France this morning.

This attack is the second in three days. On September 11, in the evening, the Spanish tuna boat Anzora Beach was attacked by four speedboats while 320 miles off the Somali coast (i.e. outside the 200 mile zone of the exclusive economic zone and beyond the 300 mile limit, usually considered the limit of their action). He was able to flee as night fell. All the trawlers in the area have therefore decided to withdraw to the Seychelles.

As for the European Union, it dithers. It has been more than three months since the UN Security Council authorized the use of force, including in the territorial waters of Somalia (resolution 1816). France and Spain are pushing for an initiative (1). They are supported by many Member States of the European Union (Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, etc.) ready to send boats to the area or participate in one way or another in the operation. But it blocks. Meetings followed one another throughout the summer in the various groups of the Council and in particular in the Political and Security Committee (PSC). Many questions (legal, military, financial, administrative, etc.) arise - and this is logical because this is a totally new mission for the European Union (Europe of Defense has never had a maritime mission). A “Strategic Military Option for a possible ESDP operation to contribute to the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1816” was discussed. But it blocks...

For what ? Let's be honest. Beyond these "operational" questions, it is essentially a political motive what is at stake: should Europe intervene or not? And there, we find in their traditional posture of "No"... the British (2). Perhaps because they have no fishing vessels in the area... But above all for philosophical reasons: the United Kingdom does not want to hear of a new progression of Defense Europe or any reinforcement of the EU General Staff in Brussels. This attitude is very paradoxical for a country which supported resolution 1816 at the UN (proposed by France and the United States) and early committed to the fight against terrorism and maritime piracy (through the task force 150 present in the Indian Ocean).

It remains to know how long will this position be able to hold? How many attacks, hostages, even deaths will it take for the situation to unblock? There too, as in Georgia, Europe is expected. And it is for her a question of credibility. And even an obligation to "protect" its fellow citizens. The European Commission has pointed this out on several occasions (3).


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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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