Objectives and mandate (Click here to read this page in Somali)
The European Union is concerned with the continuing impact of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia on international maritime security and on the economic activities and security of countries in the region.
As a result and as part of a comprehensive approach, the EU has launched European Naval Force Somalia – Operation ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR – ATALANTA) within the framework of the European Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and in accordance with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) and International Law.
After the launch of EU NAVFOR – Operation ATALANTA in December 2008, the operation continues to successfully perform its mission and contributes to improving maritime security off the coast of Somalia and in the Indian Ocean. The Council of the EU has decided to extend the operation until December 2014.
By UNSC mandate, EU NAVFOR – Operation ATALANTA conducts:
- the protection of vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP) delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia; the protection of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) shipping;
- the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast;
- the protection of vulnerable shipping off the Somali coast on a case by case basis;
- in addition, EU NAVFOR – ATALANTA shall also contribute to the monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia.
For the full text, please see COUNCIL DECISION 2010/766/CFSP of 7 December 2010 amending Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP
EU NAVFOR – Operation ATALANTA’s participation goes beyond EU Member States. Norway was the first non-EU country to contribute to the Operation with one warship, in 2009. Furthermore, Croatia andUkraine have provided staff officers to the Operational Headquarters (OHQ). Additionally, offers by Montenegro and Serbia to contribute have been accepted and a Participation Agreement has been concluded to this effect, allowing the contribution of naval officers.
Means of contributing:
- Operational contribution to EU NAVFOR,
- Navy vessels (surface combat vessels and auxiliary ships),
- Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircrafts (MPRA),
- Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) teams.
- Providing military staff to work at the EU NAVFOR OHQ in Northwood, UK, or onboard units.
Additionally, a considerable international military naval presence is now in the area, comprising the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), NATO and also units from China, India, Japan, Russia, Taiwan and others – all committed to Counter Piracy (CP) but to some extend with varying mandates and mission objectives.
EU NAVFOR ATALANTA has permanent liaison with these forces to deconflict their operations in time and space in the mission area.
The funding of EU NAVFOR ATALANTA amounted to €8.4 million for 2010 and €8.05 million for 2011. The agreed budget for 2012 is up to EUR 8.3 million. A budget of EUR 14.9 million is provided for the common costs of the prolonged mandate until December 2014.
This budget is shared – via the Athena Mechanism – between the EU Member States, based on their GDP, and covers the financing of common costs, such as costs for the Operational Headquarters (Northwood – UK) and the Force Headquarters (onboard the Flagship), as well as medical services and transport.
Costs of supplying military assets and personnel are shared by the contributing states according to their involvement in the operation, with each state bearing the cost of the resources it deploys.
Force size and area of operation
The composition of EU NAVFOR changes constantly due to the frequent rotation of units and varies according to the Monsoon seasons in the Indian Ocean. However, it typically comprises 4 – 7 Surface Combat Vessels and 2 – 3 Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft. For currently deployed units, please see “Deployed Units“.
Including land-based personnel, EU NAVFOR consists of around 1,500 military personnel.
EU NAVFOR ATALANTA operates in a mission area covering an area from the south of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Western part of the Indian Ocean including theSeychelles. The area of Operation also includes Somali coastal territory as well as its territorial and internal waters.
This represents an area of 2,000,000 square nautical miles (almost 4,000,000 square kilometres or the equivalent to 30 times the size of England, 10 times the size of Germany, or 7 times the size of France or Spain).
In response to the geographical range in which pirates operate and changing pirate tactics, the EU has expanded the Area of Operations for EU NAVFOR and has adapted counter-piracy tactics.
Owners and operators who have vessels transiting the region are strongly encouraged to register their movements on the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) to improve their security and reduce the risk of attacks or capture. Additionally, the “Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy” (BMP) and further information about combating piracy and what action to take should they come under attack can be downloaded.
Since the launch of the operation EU NAVFOR-Operation ATALANTA
- has had a 100% success rate providing escorts to WFP vessels delivering humanitarian aid to Somali people.
- has also provided protection to AMISOM shipments, which are critical to the success of the AU operation in Somalia.
- has also ensured the protection of other vulnerable shipping within the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) and other assistance.
As a result of its close cooperation with regional governments such as those The Republic of the Seychelles, suspected pirates captured by the EU NAVFOR have been transferred to competent authorities with a view to their prosecution.
A comprehensive approach
EU NAVFOR – ATALANTA is part of the EU Comprehensive Approach in the Horn of Africa.
The political objectives of the EU are to prevent and deter pirates from interrupting global maritime trade but also to contribute to a sustainable and long-term solution to piracy through building-up the capacity of the states in the region, including Somalia, to take ownership of the fight against piracy.
Moreover, the European Union works towards eradicating the root causes of piracy by contributing to the social and economic development of Somalia, concentrating on three sectors of cooperation: governance, education, and the productive sectors, particularly rural development.
The EU actively works towards improving security on the ground in Somalia through the empowerment of Somali capacities with the EU Training Mission (EUTM Somalia) which trains Somali soldiers in Uganda to contribute to strengthening the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the institutions of Somalia.
In addition, the EU offers substantial financial and technical support to the African Union’s military mission to Somalia (AMISOM). Additional EU funding for costs (mission allowances, medical care, accommodation, fuel, and communication equipment) will bring the EU contribution to AMISOM to a total of €411.4 million since 2007. AMISOM supports dialogue and reconciliation and provides protection to key infrastructures (e.g. government buildings and the Mogadishu International Airport) to enable the Transitional Federal Government and Institutions to carry out their functions.
The new EU civilian EUCAP Nestor mission will help to build the regional maritime capacity in the Horn of Africa. It will develop the civilian coastal policing capacity in Somalia and strengthen the coastguard function in Djibouti, Kenya, the Seychelles and Tanzania. It will reinforce those countries’ ability to fight piracy and face other challenges such as illegal fishing and trafficking.
The EU supports other programmes such as the Regional Maritime Security Programme (MASE) that tackles piracy on land, the Critical Maritimes Routes Programme that reinforces maritime governance and the MARSIC Programme that enhances information sharing. The EU runs a wide range of programmes related to the prosecution, trial and detention of piracy suspects. The EU is cooperating to end impunity and therefore is assisting UNDP and UNODC in their work to establish sufficient conditions to allow fair and efficient piracy trials in Somalia. The EU has additionally signed transfer agreements with countries in the region – the Seychelles (2009), Mauritius (2011) – and is negotiating another one with Tanzania. Transfers to Kenya are possible on a case by case basis.
In December 2011, Mr. Alexander Rondos was appointed EU Special Representative to the Horn of Africa in order to best coordinate them, thus supporting regional and international efforts to achieve lasting peace, security and development. Initially, the Special Representative was asked by the Council to focus on Somalia and the regional dimensions of the conflict there, as well as on piracy, which has its root causes in the instability of Somalia.
The European Union adopted on 14 November 2011 a “Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa” to guide the EU’s engagement in the region (see Council Conclusions on the Horn of Africa, 16858/11, as adopted by the Council on 14 November 2011).
Further Assistance to Somalia (not exhaustive):
Development aid from the European Commission (10th EDF 2008-2013 – reviewed)
- €412 million ((€212 million EDF + €175 million after review + €25 million Millenium Development Goals)
- Governance: €60 million + €53 million
- Education: € 55 million + €30 million
- Economic Development: €55 million + €80 million
Humanitarian aid from the European Commission for Somalia (ECHO) since 2005
- €280 million since 2005 for Somalia
Political Control and Strategic Direction
The Political and Security Committee (PSC) exercises the political control and strategic direction of the EU military operation, under the responsibility of the Council of the European Union. The Operation Commander reports directly to the PSC.
The European Union Military Committee (EUMC) monitors the proper execution of the operation conducted under the responsibility of the Operation Commander. The chairman of the EUMC acts as the primary point of contact with the EU Operation Commander.
The European Union Military Staff (EUMS)is a part of the European External Action Service and provides in-house military expertise for the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR) and performs early warning; strategic planning; and situation assessment in support of Op ATALANTA.
The Operation Commander commands the operation from the Operational Headquarters (OHQ) at Northwood, United Kingdom. There he plans and conducts the operation in conjunction with the political and military authorities of the European Union.
The Force Commander is exercising command and control of all military forces in the Joint Operation Area. He is responsible for planning, orchestration and execution of military activities.
European Naval Force Somalia – Operation ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR – ATALANTA) is based on decisions by the Council of the EU in accordance with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) and international law.
Please find a comprehensive list of the relevant resolutions and decisions on the website of the European Union External Action Service (EEAS).