The Commission agrees with the general approach outlined in the Parliament resolution and is currently working on several aspects of it.
The Commission is developing an integrated maritime policy. It includes an external dimension as well as integrated maritime surveillance across sectors and borders to eventually generate a common maritime situational awareness of activities at sea. This will have an impact on, inter alia, maritime safety and security, as well as general law enforcement. These aspects are already part of the Council Conclusions adopted during the Swedish Presidency in November 2009.
The concept of integrated maritime surveillance is to give competent authorities, be they civilian, like coast guards, shipping and port authorities, or military, such as the navy, the opportunity to create their own maritime situational awareness picture by using information that was gathered by another area of activity using its own systems.
In spite of the mandate of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), which relates to the cooperation among its Members with a view to ensuring the conservation and optimum utilisation of stocks and encouraging sustainable development of fisheries, the Commission and the IOTC secretariat do share information on piracy issues off the cost of Somalia.
The Commission notes also that a specific supplementary line in the 2009 budget (EUR 1 million) is available to support a pilot project to study measures for the protection of European ships transiting through areas prone to piracy and armed robbery. The project will concentrate on the area off the coast of Somalia, aiming at establishing increased maritime situational awareness by enhanced surveillance and communication, increased cooperation and better threat analysis. The implementation on this has already started.
The main responsibility and thus the related concrete steps to protect Member States' ships by military means fall under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) governed exclusively by Member States.
The Commission together with Member States actively participated in the revision of the relevant instruments of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Based on this work, the 86th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee in June 2009 adopted Recommendations to Governments for preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery against ships and Guidance to ship owners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships.
The Commission is actively encouraging vessels to register in advance of transit at the Maritime Security Centre — Horn of Africa (MSC HOA) website, established by the CSDP Operation NAVFOR Atalanta. This is an effective way of protection considering the limited resources available. The Commission is concerned that, even today, great number of ships transiting through this vulnerable region do not register in advance on this website.
Setting up a permanent legal instrument to bring arrested pirates to trial is a matter that currently falls exclusively within Member States' competence.
As regards the IMO’s Djibouti Code of Conduct, its signatories declared their intention to cooperate in the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships, with a view towards sharing and reporting relevant information through a system of national focal points and information centres. Through the Instrument for Stability, the Commission has adopted a support programme which deals with maritime security and safety along certain Critical Maritime Routes, including the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden. Actions related to supporting a regional documentation and training centre in Djibouti, as well as a regional information sharing centre in Sana’a (Yemen), have been identified. The implementation of this programme is underway in close coordination with the IMO.