Saturday

19th Aug 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

"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.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides