EU’s anti piracy missions to be relocated to Spain and France
In the latest consequence of Brexit, EU leaders have now announced that two of the agencies responsible for the EU’s anti piracy missions will be relocated from the UK to France and Spain as of next year. The EU NAVFOR Operational Headquarters, which is currently located in London, will be moved to Rota in Spain when the UK leaves the union in March. Meanwhile, the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) will be moved to Brest in France.
The decision to move the headquarters from the UK is no surprise. Last month, sources reported that these missions will be formally relocated and this has now been confirmed. This is due to the fact that under EU law, non members cannot host EU agencies. This also follows the news that the European Banking Authority and EMA are to be moved to Paris and Amsterdam respectively. The UK and EU are still to agree on their future relationship in terms of security.
The mission is often referred to as Operation Atlanta. It was launched in 2008, and its aim is to protect ships that are owned by the World Food Programme and African Union Mission in Somalia. In recent years, there’s been an increasing number of piracy and armed robberies reported off the coast of Somalia.
The number of attacks peaked in 2011 at 176. Last year, it dropped to seven, and so far this year, there’s only been one recorded. These groups were introduced to try and tackle this problem and to monitor fishing activities across the region. The EU has agreed to extend its current mission mandate until the end of the year 2020.
Operational Commander, Major General Charlie Stickland, stated that “the transition is being planned with the utmost consideration to ensure it is smooth and seamless with continued cooperation and collaboration with all stakeholders throughout the region” He added that the mission would “be conducting business as usual with the Force Headquarters and ships remaining deployed and conducting deterrence of piracy and protection of WFP shipping.”