The European Union (EU) aims to continue the deployment of its member states’ warships in the Gulf of Guinea to address maritime piracy in the area.
fter reviewing the Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) pilot program in which member states have been deploying warships to the region over the last two years, the EU now wants to maintain its presence, taking into consideration the threat of piracy and other illegal activities in the Gulf of Guinea.
Namely, the EU suggests a two-year extension of the CMP mandates beginning from January, also outlining deployments of Danish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish warships into the region.
Denmark will patrol West Africa’s waters for four months, Spain for seven and a half months, France for eleven months, Italy for eight months and Portugal for three and a half months. The deployment will ensure a continuous EU presence in the Gulf of Guinea with at least one ship in the area.
The Gulf of Guinea continues to be particularly dangerous for seafarers. None of the coastal navies, with the partial exception of Nigeria, can operate the required high-sea patrol boats to respond to attacks
explains an EU External Action Service memo addressed to the Political and Security Committee of the EU.
It also added that for West Africa’s coastal navies, responding to the threats on the high seas is not always a possibility or a priority.
However, reports claimed that the EU’s flagship naval operation risks losing permission to pursue pirates in Somalia’s waters due to local politics.
More specifically, in December Somalia agreed to extend a UN mandate for the EU operation, called Atalanta, for three months.
However, its future intentions were “rather ambivalent” and “to be doubted”, according to an EU foreign-service paper, first reported by the EU Observer.
Namely, the paper notes that Somalia wants Atalanta to focus more on illegal fishing and toxic-waste dumping.
What is more, maritime piracy and armed robbery attacks reached the lowest recorded level since 1994, the annual piracy report of the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), reveals.
In 2021, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre received 132 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships. Incidents include 115 vessels boarded, 11 attempted attacks, five vessels fired upon and one vessel hijacked.