Tuesday

14th Aug 2018

Spain and France to share EU naval mission after Brexit

  • Atalanta keeps commercial shipping safe off the coast of Somalia (Photo: Council of European Union)

EU states have decided to move the HQ of their Atalanta anti-piracy mission from the UK to Spain and France due to Brexit.

The mission, which has fought piracy off the Horn of Africa for the past decade, will see its command moved from Northwood, in south-east England, to Rota, in south-west Spain, and to Brest, in western France, on 29 March next year, EU diplomats meeting in Brussels on 30 July agreed.

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

Its British chief, major general Charlie Stickland, will hand over his baton to a Spanish naval officer, vice admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave, on the same date.

The diplomats also agreed to extend its life by one more year, until 31 December 2020, and to set aside €11.8m for its operations.

The mission currently involves two ships - an Italian frigate called ITS Carlo Margottini and a Spanish patrol vessel called ESPS Meteoro - as well as a Spanish surveillance plane.

The Italian vessel is the mission's flagship and Italy had put in a bid to take over Atalanta instead of Spain.

Italy already hosts the command HQ for Operation Sophia, the EU's anti-migrant smuggling mission in the Mediterranean Sea.

Rome's argument was that it would make more sense to have one EU naval command as Europe prepares for deeper defence integration.

"Military logic calls for a unified command for both ongoing EU operations, Sophia and Atalanta," admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli, Italy's former military chief, told EUobserver in April.

"There are, however, signs of political games in perfect incoherence with the tenets of that logic," he said.

The "political games" referred to EU efforts to share out Britain's European assets, such as its EU banking and medicines agencies, as well as its satellite and medical test laboratories, evenly among member states.

The fact that anti-EU parties - the hard-right League and the populist 5 Star Movement - took power in Rome in May might not have helped its pitch, but the EU statement made no mention of that on Monday.

"The relocation and change in command are required due to the UK's decision to withdraw from the EU," it said.

The banking agency, the EBA, went to Paris, and the medical one, the EMA, went to Amsterdam.

Spain won Atalanta after putting on a show, called Operation Sarunia, for EU diplomats in April, which involved flying them from Brussels to Rota to watch Spanish special forces confront make-pretend pirates on a make-pretend fishing boat out at sea.

Interview

Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs

The EU should not share out military HQs for political reasons if it wants effective armed forces, Italy's former defence chief tells EUobserver.

Feature

Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ

Spanish special forces seized a boat from African 'pirates' as diplomats watched on Monday, in a drill marking Spain's bid to grab a top EU military mission from the UK.

EU firms in Iran caught between US and Europe

European companies with business in Iran appear caught in a tug of war between the European Union and Washington. The US demands they leave Iran or face sanctions. The European Union says remain in Iran or face penalties a home.

Analysis

Did Juncker trick Trump?

The EU commission chief agreed to trade talks even if the US president did not lift tariffs on steel and aluminium. But he avoided tariffs on cars and obtained a commitment to refrain from new unilateral moves.

News in Brief

  1. Malta to allow Aquarius migrants to disembark
  2. Juncker sends condolences over Genoa bridge collapse
  3. EU pledges €500,000 more for Indonesian earthquake island
  4. EU commission in talks with states on new Aquarius migrants
  5. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  6. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions
  7. Masked youths set dozens of cars alight in Sweden
  8. Spain and Italy refuse new Aquarius-rescued migrants

Opinion

Has the time finally come for 'European champions'?

Since Emmanuel Macron took the French presidency in 2017, the concept of consolidating European industries to create continental 'champions', capable of competing on a global scale, has been revived.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  2. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  3. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  4. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia
  5. 14 lobbyist meetings with Oettinger and Canete went unminuted
  6. UK poll suggests Brits would now vote Remain
  7. Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation
  8. Nordic and Baltic farmers urgently need EU support

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us