Sunday

25th Sep 2022

UK sends warship to EU anti-smuggler operation

  • HMS Richmond in the Persian Gulf (Photo: Daniel Barker)

The UK is sending another warship to help the EU in its operations to stop human smuggling in the Mediterranean.

The HMS Richmond is to move from the Suez Canal area to near Libya for at least two months, joining the existing eight vessels in EUnavfor Med, an EU anti-smuggler operation.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The British immigration minister, James Brokenshire, told a House of Lords committee on Wednesday (16 September) that the warship will mainly be used for surveillance operations.

“It has additional surveillance and reconnaissance capability … including the ScanEagle, an unmanned aerial system which can cover vast areas. It’s that type of contribution it’s able to offer”, he said.

The frigate carries 185 personnel, a helicopter, and anti-ship missiles.

It is to join two other British ships already in EUnavfor Med, the HMS Bulwark and HMS Enterprise.

The new deployment comes as EUnavfor Med prepares to begin intercepting and boarding migrant vessels in international waters.

The EU foreign service is drafting rules of engagement for the action, which is to start in mid-October.

Brokenshire told the House of Lords that if EU navies apprehend suspected smugglers or traffickers they will be taken to the “nearest safe port in Europe” and face “prosecutorial action in that country”.

“We can’t tolerate having criminality on the shores of the EU … it’s appropriate to use military assets to support the [EU] mission”, he added.

Internal borders

Turning to internal EU borders, he said that British authorities are in touch with Belgium and the Netherlands to stop irregular migrants trying to cross on ferries.

The Belgian-Dutch route opened up after the UK and France clamped down on Channel Tunnel security.

Brokenshire said organised crime groups in Europe treat migrants as a “commodity”, like cigarettes or narcotics.

He said British police, working with the EU’s joint police body, Europol, secured 48 convictions on human smuggling between April and August.

He said Europol is crucial in terms of intelligence-sharing.

He also said Europol might launch “joint investigative teams”, composed of subsets of EU states, to go after cross-border smuggling gangs in future.

'No decision expected' for EU decision on unanimous decisions

Swedish minister for European affairs Hans Dahlgren told EUobserver no decision can be expected on majority vote next year. Mikuláš Bek, the Czech minister for European affairs, said enlargement and changes to the decision-making are politically interlinked.

'Cosmetic changes' not enough on EU funds, Hungary warned

Critics point out that Hungary will continue to receive substantial inflows of EU funds since the proposed suspension applies only to around 22 percent of total EU subsidies earmarked for Hungary in the bloc's current budget for 2021-2027.

EU Commission proposes freezing 65% of funds to Hungary

The freezing, the first time in the EU's history using the conditionality mechanism linking EU subsidies to the respect of the rule of law, would suspend money from the bloc's cohesion funds under the 2021-27 long-term budget.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us