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The EUNAVFOR Med Irini operation in a nutshell

(B2) With the arrival of the Jean Bart, the European Union's EUNAVFOR Med arms control operation off the coast of Libya - "Irini" by its nickname - really begins

Who is present at sea?

Initially, the operation will have three ships – provided by France (read: The Jean Bart anti-aircraft frigate deployed in Operation Irini), Greece and Italy —, a boarding team (VPD) — provided by Malta (1) — and three patrol aircraft — provided by Germany, Luxembourg and Poland. Seven member countries are contributing concretely to the operation.

How many countries are present on the general staff?

Besides these, more than fifteen others (Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden) provide resources at the operational headquarters (on land) or force (at sea). This therefore makes a total of 23 Member States out of 26 (2) participating directly or indirectly in the operation. This is not negligible and it is even the mark of a notable interest of the member countries of the European Union. NB. We notice a big absence: Spain.

How is command ensured?

The rotation of the force commander (at sea) will take place every six months, between Greeks and Italians, at the same time as the rotation of the flagship. An (intelligent) way to resolve the conflict between Rome and Athens over command of the operation. This will remain headed by an Italian with a French deputy.

How to ensure a more general monitoring?

In order to not only monitor a narrow maritime zone, that of international waters (beyond 12 nautical miles of Libyan or Egyptian territorial waters), several resources were requisitioned. The European Satellite Center (SatCen) will thus provide support in terms of satellite imagery. Other ways " special, necessary for the execution of the tasks of the operation ", i.e. submarines, aerial drones, fighter planes, etc. will be made available by Member States on an occasional basis.

Will other means come?

Yes. " Other means offered by Member States will join the operation in the weeks and months to come ", says Admiral Fabio Agostini, who commands the EU operation from HQ in Rome – Centocelle.

What is happening with the coronavirus epidemic?

A " particular attention » has been made to Covid-19 countermeasures, it is specified on the European side. The commander of the operation has thus published 'directives' for the participating countries in order to reduce the risk of contagion within the headquarters and on board ships and planes. A ship or aircraft must be declared 'Covid-19 free' by the flag state. before it can be included in the operation ».

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. With a serious reservation put by Malta to this participation. Read : Dark cloud over Operation Irini. Malta brandishes the threat of a veto
  2. The United Kingdom (due to Brexit) and Denmark (constitutional opt-out) are not participating in the operation.

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).