The European Council (EC) has decided to extend the mandate of EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta to curb piracy until 31 December 2020.
EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta aims to deter, prevent and suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast.
Launched in 2008, EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta also intends to safeguard the World Food Program (WFP) vessels, as well as vulnerable shipping, fishing activities, and other EU missions and programmes in the region.
As per reports, the number of attacks off the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean has reduced from 176 in 2011 to 9 in 2017, while no incident was reported throughout the second quarter of this year.
Welcoming the EC’s decision to extend the EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta, European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) secretary general Martin Dorsman said: “The naval presence of the EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta and the cooperation with other international forces, has strongly contributed to the dramatic decrease in piracy attacks in this region.”
EC has also decided to transfer Operation Atalanta’s operational headquarters from Northwood in the UK to Rota, Spain, and the Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) to Brest, France, as of 29 March next year.
This decision is triggered by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Dorsman further added: “It needs to be guaranteed that the Operation Atalanta will continue to run as effectively and efficiently as today.”
EC has also allocated a budget of €11.777m for the common costs of the operation of EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta for an extended period.