Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

EU navies take up position in Mediterranean

  • The Cavour is Italy's largest aircraft carrier (Photo: raramuridesign)

Italy’s largest aircraft carrier, the Cavour, is spearheading an EU-led naval operation to monitor and then crush migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean.

More than a dozen military assets including warships, helicopters, reconnaissance planes, submarines, and drones are also moving into position near Libya as part of a risky operation called EUnavfor Med.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK are supplying the weapons.

Speaking to reporters in Luxembourg on Monday (22 June), the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the first phase will be launched in the next few days.

“This covers information gathering and patrolling on the high seas to support the detection and monitoring of smuggling networks”, she said.

She noted that the targets are not migrants but “those who are making money on their lives and too often on their deaths”.

The formal announcement comes just two days after World Refugee day.

Estimates suggest the majority of those making the perilous sea journey this year are from wartorn countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, and Syria.

Over 50,000 made it to Italy so far, with most being plucked from the sea by merchant vessels (14,769) compared to the EU’s Triton mission (3,483), according to the Italian coast guard.

But fears are mounting that the EU’s naval campaign could put people in the cross-fire.

Libya has no functional government but was still able to launch jet fighter attacks on an oil tanker near the city of Sirte earlier this year. In January, a Greek-operated oil tanker was also bombed in Libya's Islamic State-held port of Derna.

The EU is hoping for a UN Security Council resolution to scale up its operation, allowing EUnavfor Med to move into Libyan waters, but is meeting resistance from China and Russia.

It also wants a unity government formed in Libya to help resolve the issue.

“I think it is quite clear that on one side the work in the UN and the work on the ground in Libya to reach a unity government go somehow in parallel. Our work on the naval operation can in any case start within the limits of international law,” said Mogherini.

The operation’s intelligence gathering phase is the first of three phases. The second and third phase involve the search and seizure of boats and are the most risky in terms of possible causalities.

The Cavour, commanded by rear admiral Enrico Credendino, has also been cleared of jet fighters to make space for a “robust hospital”.

“In phase one, we will not operate fighter aircraft”, said a senior EU diplomat.

He said the Cavour was chosen because “we need a big command control platform”.

The EU senior diplomat said the naval operation “will not enter the territorial water of Libya in phase one" but noted mission planners were prepared for whatever events could take place.

“We also need to think of the unthinkable”, he said.

With up to 1,000 people taking part, EUnavfor Med is to cost the EU €11.8 million over its first two months. It is based in Rome and will be in full swing sometime early July.

Mali blames West for chaos in Libya

Mali's foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop told the EU in Brussels that the lack of vision and planning following the Nato-led bombing campaign in Libya helped trigger the current migration and security crisis.

Opinion

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

News in Brief

  1. No UK 'capital of culture' city post-Brexit
  2. EU sets up natural disaster rescue team
  3. Spain sends migrant arrivals to unfinished prison
  4. Iceland prepares for biggest volcano to blow
  5. Greek parliament postpones debate on Saudi arms deal
  6. Family of murdered Malta journalist to sue police
  7. UK to sell RBS bank stake, boosting government coffers
  8. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  2. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  3. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  4. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  5. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  6. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  7. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  8. Commission warns Italy over high debt level