Wednesday

19th Sep 2018

EU ready to destroy smuggler boats at sea

  • Fishing boats in Libya. A new military target. (Photo: michaël stone)

The EU wants to step up its boat-sinking operation against smugglers in the Mediterranean sea.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said on Thursday (3 September) that the EU's naval operation - EUnavfor Med - is now ready to move from a surveillance-only phase to one that seizes and destroys boats in international waters.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"The intelligence that was gathered throughout phase one highlighted that, on at least 16 occasions in these last five weeks, we could have gone after smugglers and traffickers already", she said.

Mogherini laid out the latest plans at a meeting of EU defence ministers, but noted they still need to be formally adopted.

Foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Friday and Saturday will also discuss the phase two plan.

Military assets from contributing member states will stay out of Libya’s territorial waters, Mogherini added.

But she said the transition to phase two would require "more vessels, more assets".

Launched in June, the anti-smuggling flotilla already includes the Italian flagship "Cavour", the British warship "Enterprise", two German warships, in addition to air assets from France, Luxembourg, Italy, and the UK, including two submarines, deployed for their advanced surveillance and detection capabilities.

The third phase will see the EU operation destroy boats "preferably before use" and apprehend traffickers and smugglers.

Moving the operation from the high seas to inside territorial waters is a contentious issue for Libyan and Russian authorities.

The EU needs formal approval from Benghazi or the backing of a UN Security Council resolution. It has received neither.

Libya’s internationally-recognised government in Tobruk does not control the coastal area of the country where many of the smugglers disembark.

With Tobruk’s mandate set to end in October, Mogherini is hoping the UN can finalise a deal to broker a national unity government with its rival government, a loose alliance of militias, based in Libya’s capital Tripoli.

Russia has now indicated it would back a UN resolution that excludes territorial waters.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, said the resolution could be adopted within the month.

"We will work within the framework of international law and this is what we are doing and this is what we will continue to do," said Mogherini.

EU wants continental free-trade deal with Africa

Earlier this week, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in his state of the union announced a new relationship with Africa. On Friday, his subordinates outlined the vision, promising jobs and growth by leveraging public funds for investments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Latest News

  1. Real Brexit progress needed by October, Barnier says
  2. Poland to face EU top court on rule of law
  3. Austria's EU presidency: a bridge over troubled water?
  4. EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers
  5. Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal
  6. New book: Why war is coming
  7. EU parliament will not budge on office expenses
  8. Why Orban's project to reshape EU politics will be unsuccessful

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us