Thursday

18th Oct 2018

Nato ready to help EU navies on sea migrants, if asked

Nato remains ready to help clamp down on migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean, as plans to expand the EU’s naval military operation get under way.

A Nato official told this website on Thursday (27 August) the alliance remains “ready to help if there is a request” made by the European Union.

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

His comment comes after Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told an EU migration summit the same thing earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said Thursday that talks are underway to allow the EU's naval operation - EUnavfor Med - "to act in the high seas to tackle the criminal networks in a more effective way”.

EU defence ministers will also be meeting next week in Luxembourg to discuss the operation.

Launched in June with a mission “to identify, capture, and dispose of vessels”, the anti-smuggling assault is still in its initial surveillance-only phase.

The one-year mission includes the Italian flagship “Cavour”, the British warship “Enterprise”, two German warships, and air assets from France, Luxembourg, Italy, and the UK, including two submarines, deployed for their advanced surveillance and detection capabilities.

Mission head admiral Enrico Credendino told EU ambassadors in Brussels on Thursday that the second phase of the operation is now ready to start.

Phase two allows his force to seize and search suspicious vessels.

A diplomat told Reuters the phase two start “would imply the commitment of new vessels, military personnel, and financial resources.”

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

The phase twe expansion follows a recent increase in people drowning off the coast of Libya in their attempt to seek refuge on the EU mainland.

At least 30 died on Thursday when a boat sank carrying 200. Another 53 met the same fate on Wednesday on three overcrowded migrant boats, also off the Libyan coast.

Over 2,300 people have died this year so far.

The late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had made deals with the Italian government to stop embarcations.

But smugglers now operate with impunity in Libya, which is divided into at least four parts and with the government in Tripoli, which controls most of the embarcation points, left out of EU planning because the EU recognizes only a rival government, based in Tobruk.

The EU mission needs Benghazi’s permission to enter Libyan territorial waters or a green light from the United Nations. It has received neither.

The Tobruk authorities told the AFP news agency in May they wouldn’t accept any violation of Libyan sovereignty.

It’s air-force chief Saqr Al-Jaroushi repeated the warning a month later.

"Any vessel found in Libyan waters without previous co-operation or permission will be targeted by the air force".

For his part, Italy’s chief of defence from 2008 to 2011, General Vincenzo Camporini, told this website over the summer the naval operation would end up helping the smugglers.

“In essence, it’s helping the smuggling operation because it provides people with more means to reach their desired objective, which is to land in Europe”, he said.

He praised the EUnavfor chief, Credendino, who used to serve under him.

But he said boat and fuel depot-destruction on Libyan coasts risks casualties because smugglers are likely to use migrating people as human shields and because armed groups, not least Islamic State cells, are likely to attack EU forces.

A French security source with experience in Libya, who asked not to be named, also questioned the logic of the EU mission.

“Do you have any idea of the cost of a sea/land missile, compared to the cost of a Libyan fisherman’s ship?”, he told EUobserver.

“All the real specialists in Europe - military, navy, professional security firms - are laughing about this”.

Agenda

Migration tops EU agenda THIS WEEK

The European Commission and member states will assess the consequences and possible solutions to the refugee crisis.

Austria EU presidency seeks 'mandatory solidarity' on Dublin

EU interior ministers are meeting in Luxembourg this Friday to discuss migration. The Austrian EU presidency is hoping to reach a consensus on Dublin reforms and a concept of 'mandatory solidarity' after briefing 27 EU states bilaterally over the summer.

Libyan militia cash in on EU's anti-smuggling strategy

More people in Libya are being inducted into slavery as people-traffickers try to monetise their investment by selling them. A senior UN refugee agency official described it as an unintended side effect of the reduction of migrant boat departures.

News in Brief

  1. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  2. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  3. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  4. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules
  5. Barnier open to extending Brexit transition period
  6. Juncker mulls rejection of Italy's 2019 budget
  7. German justice minister to lead SPD in European elections
  8. Tusk: May should come with new Brexit proposals

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue
  2. May faces EU leaders head-to-head as Brexit deal falters
  3. Nordic region's top bank in new Russia funds complaint
  4. Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay
  5. EU ministers struggle to deal with Poland and Hungary
  6. Commission tried to hide details of 'WiFi4EU' glitch
  7. Brexit standoff continues before EU summit
  8. ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us