The EU Council resolved to extend the operation until the end of 2016 to protect World Food Programme vessels delivering humanitarian aid to Somalia and the deterrence, repression and disruption of piracy off the Somali coast. Operation Atalanta also contributes to the monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia.
“EU Operation Atalanta has considerably helped in reducing piracy off the Somali coast. We must maintain the pressure on pirates to help ensuring security in the Horn of Africa. This is in our mutual interest,” said Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
She added that tThe EU Naval Force will now also contribute to addressing the root causes of piracy in the Horn of Africa.
Piracy is a menace that has been rampant in the region with a total of 179 ships hijacked in the high seas along Somalia between 2005 and 2013.
Ransom payments to Somali pirates are estimated to have been between $339 million and $413 million over the same period. The number of attacks by Somali pirates has since dropped largely because of an international naval effort.
Despite the significant progress that has been achieved off the coast of Somalia since Operation Atalanta was launched in 2008, it is widely recognised that the threat from piracy remains due to the fact that the pirate business model is fractured but not broken.
The threats posed by the pirates has prompted the EU Council to expand the operation’s mandate in that the EU Naval Force will now contribute, within existing means and capabilities, more widely to the EU’s comprehensive approach to Somalia, including in support of the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa.
It will also be able to contribute to other relevant international community activities helping to address the root causes of piracy in Somalia.
In this respect, the operation could, for example, provide logistical support, expertise or training at sea for other EU actors, in particular the EU mission on regional maritime capacity building (EUCAP NESTOR). In addition, Operation Atalanta can also support the EU Training Mission (EUTM) Somalia.
The common costs of EU Naval Force for the two years 2015 and 2016 are estimated at €14.7 million. The operation is currently commanded by Major General Martin Smith MBE of the UK Royal Marines. Together with 21 EU member states, two non-EU countries currently contribute to Operation Atalanta.