Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Factsheet: EU NAVFOR Somalia

Commodore Antonios Papaioannou

Antonios Papaioannou, EU

The European Union is getting ready to conduct a military operation in order to contribute to the deterrence, the prevention and the repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. The Council has adopted a joint action to this end on 10 November 2008. This military operation, called EU NAVFOR Somalia – operation “Atalanta”, will be launched in support of Resolutions 1814 (2008), 1816 (2008) and 1838 (2008) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in order to contribute to:

  • the protection of vessels of the WFP (World Food Program) delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia;
  • the protection of vulnerable vessels cruising off the Somali coast, and the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast.

This operation, which is the first EU maritime operation, will be conducted in the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).


The operation’s mandate will in particular include the following elements:

  • provide protection to vessels chartered by the WFP, including by means of the presence on board those vessels of armed units of the operation, in particular when cruising in Somali territorial waters;
  • provide protection to merchant vessels cruising in the areas where it is deployed;
  • keep watch over areas off the Somali coast, including Somalia’s territorial waters, in which there are dangers to maritime activities, in particular to maritime traffic;
  • take the necessary measures, including the use of force, to deter, prevent and intervene in order to bring to an end acts of piracy and armed robbery which may be committed in the areas where it is present.

Structures and Plans

Rear admiral Phillip Jones is appointed EU Operation Commander and Commodore Antonios Papaioannou is the appointed EU Force Commander. The EU Operational Headquarters is located at Northwood, United Kingdom.

Under the responsibility of the Council, the Political and Security Committee will exercise the political control and strategic direction of the EU military operation.

The operation is planned for a period of 12 months.

The estimated financial reference amount for the common costs of the operation is EUR 8,3 millions.

In view of judicial prosecutions potentially being brought by the competent States, the operation can arrest, detain and transfer persons who have committed, or are suspected of having committed, acts of piracy or armed robbery in the areas where it is present and seize the vessels of the pirates or armed robbers or the vessels caught following an act of piracy or an armed robbery and which are in the hands of the pirates, as well as the goods on board.

The operation can liaise with organizations and entities, as well as States, working in the region to combat acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast.

As a reminder, greatly preoccupied with regard to the acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast, the Council established in September 2008 a coordination cell in Brussels with the task of supporting the surveillance and protection activities carried out by some Member States off the Somali coast. The activities of the EU NAVCO cell will be closed on the launch date of the EU NAVFOR military operation.

Picture: Commodore Antonios Papaioannou, EU Force Commander for EU NAVFOR Somalia
For more information: www.consilium.europa.eu/eu-navco

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