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The extension of Atalanta formalized in December, the modifications…

(BRUSSELS2) If the EU Defense Ministers decided last May, and approved in November, the extension of the EU anti-piracy operation “EUNAVFOR Atalanta” is not yet done formally. Approval of the Joint Action – which allows the renewal – should be made at the beginning of December (at the Council of Foreign Ministers (*) on December 7). We are, in fact, awaiting the United Nations resolution which renews for one year the resolutions (1814, 1816, 1838) on which the military action of the European Union is based.

Some modifications
could be introduced in “Atalanta 2” compared to the first text of the Joint Action.

First of all, it involves introducing the changes to the legal basis and name of the High Representative, introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon.

More substantially, several points of the mandate should be clarified, even extended. Thus, it could be specified by name the fishing vessels among the vulnerable vessels.

Next, it is about extending Atalanta's mandate beyond the act of piracy or armed robbery with the intent to do so; this legal point is important because it obliges (in part) the numerous releases of suspects who we know perfectly well that they had the intention, or even that they committed, an act of piracy because there are numerous material clues (ladder, gasoline drums, weapons, no fishing utensils on board, etc.) but whose presence in the area cannot be linked with certainty to the attack of a named boat (there is no in the act).

Finally, the mission could receive the mandate to monitor fishing activities off the coast of Somalia (to avoid illegal fishing – and also thus be able to control the activities of pirate boats); secondly, once the Somali forces have the capacity to do so, the Atalanta force would act in liaison with the local authorities, in particular with the exchange of information. What we call at the French level, classically, missions arising from “State action at sea”.

It should be noted that accusations of illegal fishing are quite often used, either to justify piracy, its causes, or even to explain the situation of fishermen in Somalia. European fishermen deny any illegal fishing, believing that they are “very closely monitored”: “a position signal is sent every 2 hours by all European fishing boats – a representative of the fishermen explained to me –, an appeal relayed to the European Commission , DG Mare, which thus has the technical means to know if a fishing boat – at least European – is in an “unauthorized zone”.

(*) From 1 December, this will now be the official name of the Council of Ministers responsible for external relations.

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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