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Europeans spend second in the Mediterranean

British visiting teams (B2 archives - Credit: EUNAVFOR Atalanta)
British visiting teams (B2 archives - Credit: EUNAVFOR Atalanta)

(B2) The operation against traffickers in the Mediterranean will move to a more offensive phase. European affairs ministers approved today (Monday 14 September) the principle of a transition to “phase 2a”, according to the jargon in use in the CSDP.

During this phase, the European forces will no longer be content to observe but will be able to " board ships, search them, seize and divert ships, apprehend traffickers and bring them to justice summarized a European diplomat to B2.

Phase 2a makes it possible to intervene against ships and craft " suspected of being used for human trafficking or migrant smuggling ", under the conditions provided for by the international law of the sea. In the absence of a resolution from the United Nations Security Council, this intervention will only take place in international waters - and not in Libyan territorial waters - and against ships suspects (without a flag, who wear a flag that is not theirs, etc.).

This commitment could, however, be a game-changer at sea. The ambition is not not really to stop the traffic but to force the traffickers to change their business model, to disrupt them, to dissuade them explains a diplomat. Within weeks, we had nearly 16 opportunities where we could have intervened against traffickers stressed Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU, a few days ago. A constantly increasing number. According to our information, in a few days, four new opportunities to arrest smugglers have been missed in the last few days.

The key element of this second phase will therefore be based on the "visiting teams". Robust teams, with sea legs, ready to face all kinds of situations. First of all, it is a question of carrying out the boarding, of facing people who are sometimes determined and armed (the traffickers have already been seen in possession of weapons of the AK47 - Kalashnikov type). A role generally provided, depending on the country, by marines, marine commandos or special forces teams.

On the French side, Jean-Yves le Drian confirmed the French desire to participate decisively in this second phase. by providing a frigate ". The Minister of Defense considered that beyond "the obligation to come to the aid of people" who risk their lives, it was necessary to react " against those who profit from this traffic inhuman ».

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Find out more: on B2 Club (the professional edition of B2), all the details of this second phase: The second phase of EUNAVFOR approved. Duration, format, objective… the details

(*) To be exact, Denmark does not participate in the decision-making process regarding EU military operations.

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).