Turning the Tide on Piracy, Building Somalia's Future: Follow-up report on the EU's Operation Atalanta and beyond - European Union Committee Contents


Operation Atalanta is the EU's first naval operation. It was launched in 2008 under UK leadership, with the purpose of protecting World Food Programme ships delivering aid to Somalia, and preventing and combating piracy off the Somali coast. The Committee first reported on Atalanta in April 2010, when we outlined a number of concerns about the mission and the situation in Somalia. Since then two further EU missions have been launched, one, based in Uganda, to train Somali security forces, (EUTM Somalia), and one to support regional maritime capacity-building in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean states (EUCAP Nestor).

In this report we welcome the progress made in reducing the number of pirated ships as a result of efforts by the international naval task forces, including Atalanta, and by the shipping industry, which has increasingly used ship protection measures. In June 2012 eight pirated vessels and 215 hostages were held, compared with 23 vessels and 501 hostages in June the previous year. We consider that Operation Atalanta must be continued up to and beyond the expiry of its current mandate in December 2014 in order to avoid an upsurge in pirate activity.

We welcome the increased involvement of Somalia's neighbours, led by the Seychelles, in conducting piracy trials, though we have doubts about the transfer of sentenced pirates back to Somalia. We also have concerns about the problems created for the countries involved by the higher standards of prisons for pirates than for their other prisoners. We believe that some measure of rehabilitation should be established, especially for younger pirates, though we recognise that imprisonment needs to be a real deterrent.

We note with satisfaction the extent of practical international cooperation in countering piracy, including by China, and the cooperation with regional organisations such as the African Union. We believe, however, that the Gulf States should make a greater effort to assist in solving the problems of piracy and Somalia.

We concluded in our previous report that piracy would not be ended until the root causes of the problems in Somalia were successfully tackled. Since that report, the EU has developed its activity by formulating a Strategy for the Horn of Africa and appointing a Special Representative for the area, as well as launching EUTM Somalia and EUCAP Nestor. We believe that the missions should be taken forward pro-actively and that the EU's development aid should focus on providing alternative livelihoods for the Somali people. These missions must continue until the incentives for piracy are removed and the coastal states of the region are able to police their own coastlines. Taken together, we welcome these developments as assisting the necessary comprehensive solution to Somalia's problems under the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy.

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2012