Blog Analysismaritime piracy

Atalanta: why is it difficult to integrate non-EU boats?

(B2)Why not integrate Russian, American, Indian warships, etc. into the European “Atalanta” armada? That would be logical. These boats pursue the same goal: to fight against piracy. But it’s not that simple…

1° Europeans operate, in fact, under a common mandate – Joint Action – and very precise rules defined in an operational plan – CONOPS, Operation Plan, Rules of Engagement… A third State which wishes to participate must accept this whole set of rules.

2° The State must agree to place its resources under European command for a well-defined fixed period. Clearly, once under European mandate, the national State no longer has direct power of command over the resources thus committed. Moreover, most of the EU states (France, Germany, United Kingdom) participating in the operation do not plan to make all their resources in the area available to the Atalanta command.

3° Finally, there is a major political and legal problem. Operation Atalanta is not a military operation like any other. But more of a police operation, with all its ins and outs: deterrence, protection, arrest. And the EU is governed by several rule of law principles. The Joint Action also made it clear that it was not possible to transfer arrested prisoners to countries which do not respect the fundamental principles of human rights (guarantee of the rights of the defense, functioning of justice and… absence of the death penalty). And the death penalty is still in force in several third countries present in the area such as the United States and India. With these countries, “coordination” is therefore more important than integration.

Let us note in passing the hypocrisy of certain European states – like Germany – which only have a limited possibility of arrest – of relying on other forces – Americans for example – because it amounts to not respecting the principle defined jointly.


NB: The Cypriot-Turkish question also continues to poison NATO-EU relations. This complicates the association of certain countries such as Turkey or Norway, members of NATO and non-members of the EU.

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).