Monday

20th Jan 2020

EU countries agree boat-sinking operation

  • Mogherini: 'We have to do something with the human beings we save' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU countries have agreed to launch a military operation to sink migrant smugglers’ boats.

The mission, EU Navfor Med, is to have an HQ in Rome under the command of an Italian admiral, Enrico Credendino, and might start work by the end of June, the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said on Monday (18 May).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

She noted it’ll begin with intelligence gathering and sharing by participant EU states, who are to start pledging manpower and equipment from Tuesday.

In its second phase, EU countries’ assets will carry out “detection and inspection” of smuggler boats.

Warships will later take up positions, possibly in Libyan waters, to deter smuggling, and, in the final phase, begin to “neutralise” the traffickers’ boats, fuel dumps, and other facilities.

Mogherini noted the latter steps will require a UN Security Council resolution, which is currently being drafted by the UK, as well as permission from Libya.

The country has split into several parts since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Mogherini said its “legitimate” government is the one in Tobruk. But with no national unity deal in sight, she said the EU will also work with rival authorities in Tripoli, in Misrata, and in “municipalities”.

“We’ll need to work together to dismantle these networks, the municipalities will have an important role to play in identifying them”, she noted.

She downplayed concerns that Islamic State is trying to infiltrate the EU by hiding operatives on migrant boats, as voiced earlier on Monday by Nato head Jens Stoltenberg.

She said EU research “cannot confirm any link known to us” of this type. But she warned that income from people smuggling “may be being used for financing terrorist activities”.

The anti-smuggler operation was ordered by EU leaders at an emergency summit last month when almost 1,000 people drowned in a single incident.

Mogherini said it’s “a record” for the EU to move so quickly.

EU leaders at the time also asked the European Commission to come up with a broader migration plan.

But the commission’s central idea, to impose national quotas on migrant relocation, isn’t going down well.

Mogherini defended the commission proposal on Monday, saying there's political will to act on “sharing of the burden” and that the quotas do not amount to an “open door policy” on immigration.

“They [the EU leaders] did invite the commission to come forward with a proposal”, she said.

“There’s an awareness on the part of member states that … we have to do something with the human beings we save”.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Opinion

'A game of roulette' - life as a journalist now in Turkey

Turkey has more journalists behind bars than any other country in the world. The authorities seem to equate journalism with terrorism: everyone has the right to express themselves, but, in their eyes, legitimate journalism is a threat to security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us