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EUNAVFOR Med launched on Monday. A “big ears” operation first (maj)

SubmarineZeeleuwPeriscope2@Nl101105
A submarine could be used in the operation. The advantage is its discretion. This tool had been used against pirates. Here the Dutch Zee Leuw in action in 2010 (credit: marine NL / archives B2)

(BRUSSELS2) Barring last-minute surprises, The European operation to combat people smugglers and traffickers in the Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) will be launched on June 22 by EU foreign ministers, but only in phase 1 (as announced in our edition “ Pro” B2 Club, read: The EUNAVFOR operation launched in phase 1 only).

Intelligence and information

Phase 1 concerns only intelligence and information exchange. It therefore does not require a resolution from the United Nations Security Council or an invitation from the Libyan government. Two decisions which could not be obtained in time (which was a very difficult challenge to achieve). The boarding of suspicious vessels on the high seas and even more so the penetration into Libyan territorial waters is therefore postponed. But all means of surveillance, “intelligence”, analysis will be used, we assure the military: from drones to satellites, including maritime patrol planes, even Awacs, down to submarines. -sailors, patrol vessels equipped with all listening possibilities (telephone, radar, etc.).

A decision without debate

To avoid any last minute debate, on a political level, the agreement will be ratified between ambassadors and within the military committee. There are still a number of details to be resolved in the final days. But everything should be ready by Sunday. This will then allow ministers to ratify the launch, without discussion, as “point A” in European jargon, during their meeting in Luxembourg. (update) The experts and diplomats put the turbo into action and managed to complete the entire system late Friday afternoon. They will therefore not spend another weekend there.

A bet won for Mogherini… and for Renzi

In any case, the High Representative of the EU, the Italian Federica Mogherini, will have won her bet: launching a military naval operation in the Mediterranean to demonstrate European solidarity in the fight against traffickers alongside the civil operation coordinated by the Frontex agency which has a more clearly stated objective of relief and rescue at sea of ​​migrants (read in particular: The rescue of thousands of migrants by European navies continues). She offers Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, a victory. Because on the question of the relocation of migrants, it is much more complicated. And the debates there are much more difficult than in military matters.

A phase 1 of indefinite duration?

It remains to be seen how long phase 1 will last. And therein lies the ambiguity – and the bet on the future of the operation. According to military experts, it should last at least several weeks, at least until September, the date planned for the full operational capacity of the mission. Until then, we will have to extract their agreement from the Libyans and Russians, the main condition for obtaining the green light from the Security Council for the second phase. But the presence in Libyan territorial waters and even more the possibility of neutralizing ships there seems far from being acquired.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

read also on Le Club (pro edition of B2 Pro): The EUNAVFOR operation launched in phase 1 only

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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).