Procedure : 2011/2962(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0223/2012

Texts tabled :


Debates :

Votes :

PV 10/05/2012 - 12.56
CRE 10/05/2012 - 12.56

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0223/2012

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on maritime piracy (2011/2962(RSP))

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Gesine Meissner, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Marielle de Sarnez on behalf of the ALDE Group

European Parliament resolution on maritime piracy (2011/2962(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2008 on an integrated maritime policy for the European Union(1),

–   having regard to its resolutions on piracy at sea, especially the resolution of 23 October 2008 on piracy at sea(2) and the resolution on 26 November 2009 on a political solution to the problem of piracy off the Somali coast(3),

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 10 December 1982,

–   having regard to the 1988 United Nations Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation,

–   having regard to UN Security Council Resolutions 1814(2008) of 15 May 2008, 1816(2008) of 2 June 2008, as well as 1851(2008) of 16 December 2008, 1897(2009) of 30 November 2009, 1950(2010) of 23 November 2010, 1976(2011) of 11 April 2011, 2015(2011) of 24 October 2011, and 2020(2011) of 22 November 2011 on the situation in Somalia,

–   having regard to the Council Joint Action 2008/749/CFSP of 19 September 2008 on the European Union military coordination action in support of UN Security Council Resolutions 1816(2008) (EU NAVCO)(4),

–   having regard to the Council Joint Action 2008/851/CFSP of 10 November 2008(5) and to the Council Decision 2010/766/CFSP on a European Union military operation named ATALANTA(6) to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast as well as the protection of vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP) delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia and the protection of African Union Mission on Somalia (AMISOM) shipping,

–   having regard to the Council Decision 2010/96/CFSP of 15 February 2010 and to the Council Decision 2010/197/CFSP of 31 March 2010 on the European Union military mission to contribute to the training of Somali security forces (EUTM Somalia),

–   having regard to the Crisis Management Concept agreed by the Foreign Affairs Council on 16 December 2011 for the Council Regional Maritime Capacity Building (RMCB) mission, as a civilian CSDP mission with military expertise under preparation,

–   having regard to a Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa to guide the EU’s engagement in the region adopted by the Council on 14 November 2011,

–   having regard to the power-sharing deal signed in Djibouti on 9 June 2008 aimed to initiate a broad-based national reconciliation and create a strong and inclusive political alliance capable of securing peace, reconciling the country and re‑establishing a central state authority,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the London conference on Somalia on 23 February 2012,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council on 27 February 2012,

–   having regard to the questions of 15 December 2011 to the Council and the Commission on maritime piracy (B7‑0039/2012 and B7‑0040/2012),

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas maritime transport has been one of the key stepping stones to economic growth and prosperity in Europe throughout its history and over 80 % of world trade is carried by sea; whereas, therefore, the EU has a genuine interest in contributing to international maritime security;

B.  whereas European fishing activities in the region are regulated by several bilateral and multilateral fishing agreements with the neighbouring countries;

C. whereas piracy on the high seas still is not solved but is even rapidly spreading problem in the Western Indian Ocean, particularly in the seas off Somalia and the Horn of Africa, but also in some other areas, including south-east Asia and in West Africa, thus becoming a growing dangerous threat both to human life and safety of seafarers and other persons, as well as to regional development and stability, marine environment ,world trade, all forms of maritime transport and shipping, including fishing vessels as well as to the delivery of humanitarian aid;

D. whereas every year 10 000 European ships go through dangerous maritime areas and therefore, apart from the human life and safety aspect the piracy also constitutes an economic problem as it threatens the international commercial maritime lines and leaves a significant negative impact on international trade;

E.  whereas a number of attempted attacks to vessels is still very high in 2011, it was reported that 28 hijackings were committed, 470 seafarers were kidnapped, 15 were murdered and currently around 191 seafarers from around 7 ships are held hostage in Somalia under horrible and inhuman conditions for increasing periods;

F.  whereas pirates are constantly developing their tactics and methods, and have expanded the operational radius by use of larger hijacked ships as so-called ‘motherships’;

G. whereas ongoing political instability in Somalia is one of the causes of the problem of piracy and it contributes to the problem of it, and piracy continues to be seen by some Somalis as a profitable and viable source of income;

H. whereas the fight against piracy cannot be won by military means alone, but depends mainly on success in promoting peace, development and state-building in Somalia;

I.   whereas EMSA has at its disposal instruments and data, which can help EU-NAVFOR Operation ‘ATALANTA’ to improve the safety of ships and seafarers in the area;

J.   whereas the problem of piracy has also negative effects on the whole region where fishing operations have become a dangerous undertaking and not only EU vessels fishing e.g. in the waters of Seychelles on the basis of a Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Republic of Seychelles, but also for the local fishermen to whom we grant sectoral support and thus take over a social responsibility; bearing in mind that the local fishermen have not the same means, neither financially nor by human capacity, to protect themselves from piracy as have the EU trawlers;

K. whereas EU is the biggest donor to Somalia, having committed EUR 215.4 million so far for development aid through the European Development Fund (EDF) for the period 2008 to 2013; whereas main focus of this funding is to lift the people from poverty into self-sustaining economic growth and provide lasting solution for stability in the country by addressing root causes of piracy by financing projects to improve governance, education, economic growth and to support to non-focal sectors (health, environment, water and sanitation);

L.  whereas the United Nations estimate that 40 % of revenue from Somalia’s piracy in 2010 was used to finance local employment, and contributed toward better redistribution and infrastructure investment to a certain extent, which demonstrates the gravity of the economic situation in Somalia;

M. whereas while the EU’s efforts to fight piracy have managed to protect all shipments of the World Food Programme (WFP), they risk to be undermined in future by the lack of naval forces and legal issues, often preventing the arrest and trial of pirates;

N. whereas every Member State is currently developing its own rules regarding the deployment of armed guards on board merchant ships;

1.  Reiterates its grave concern over the ongoing increasing threat that piracy and armed robbery at sea against international and EU fishing, merchant and passenger vessels in the Indian Ocean near the African coasts, particularly in the seas off Somalia and the Horn of Africa pose to the safety of seafarers and other persons, regional stability, and all forms of maritime transport and shipping, including fishing activities;

2.  Calls on the High Representative and Member States to urgently consider ways of liberating the hundreds of seafarers currently being held hostage, thereby ending their extended and appalling imprisonment at the hands of their captors and allowing these seafarers to return to their homes and, at the same time, ending the detention of the hijacked vessels;

3.  Welcomes the contribution made by EU-NAVFOR Operation ATALANTA to maritime security off the coast of Somalia by protecting World Food Programme chartered vessels delivering aid to Somalia and other vulnerable vessels;

4.  Welcomes the Council Decision 2010/766/CFSP on a European Union military operation which extends the EU-NAVFOR ATALANTA operation until 12 December 2012 and provides legal certainty for criminal proceedings following the capture of pirates and transmission of personal data of suspected persons; therefore welcomes the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council on 27 February 2012 calling for extension of the mandate of EU‑NAVFOR ATALANTA until December 2014;

5.  Calls for the EU-NAVFOR ATALANTA operation to be further extended also beyond 2012 in order to better ensure the effectiveness of the EU’s response to maritime piracy which has negative effects on maritime transport and equally on fishing operations carried out by EU vessels as well as local fishing vessels in the region concerned;

6.  Stresses that further piracy impunity runs counter to deterrence; deplores that despite the EU agreements with third countries (Kenya, Seychelles, Mauritius, Puntland, Somaliland, Somalia) and international legal frameworks, many pirates and other criminals were not arrested at all or, when arrested often released due to a lack of solid legal basis, also some EU Member States have inadequate criminal-law safeguards against piracy in the high seas;

7.  Stresses, as a matter of urgency, the establishment of a specialised anti-piracy court in Somalia and other States in the region with substantial international participation and/or support;

8.  In this regard calls for immediate and effective measures to prosecute and punish those suspected of acts of piracy and urges third counties and the EU Member States that have not yet done so to transpose in their national law all the provisions laid by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the UN Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, in order to tackle impunity of pirates and invites the Council and the Commission to work on a possible international court dedicated to piracy;

9.  Urges the Member States, in cooperation with Europol and INTERPOL, to investigate and trace money flows and confiscate the money which is paid as ransom to the pirates, as there are indications that this money might be floated to bank accounts worldwide, including banks in Europe, as well as identify and dismantle the organised criminal networks that reap the profits of such acts;

10. Deplores the fact that number of vessels the Member States have supplied to the EU‑NAVFOR ATALANTA operation has decreased (from 35 to 10) to only 2-3 in the beginning of 2012 and therefore appeals to the Member States to provide more navy ships to enable the ATALANTA operation to succeed;

11. Underlines the role of EU NAVFOR, NATO and Coalition Maritime Forces (CMF) in effectively addressing the increased use of pirated merchant ships as ‘Motherships’ – a development which constitutes a significant increase in the pirates’ operational capability and which enables them to launch their attacks with more strength, determination and flexibility across the whole of the Northwest Indian Ocean;

12. Underlines at the same time the need to enhance strategic coordination among EU-NAVFOR ATALANTA, EUTM Somalia and other CSDP actions in the wider Horn of Africa region; welcomes, in this regard, the decision of the Council of 23 January 2012 to activate an EU Operations Centre and looks forward for the related Council Decision to be adopted as soon as possible;

13. Calls for greater coordination among the EU, NATO and the third countries on the various international naval forces ¬conducting three main counter-piracy naval missions in the region (EU NAVFOR, CTF-150/151 and TF-508 within NATO’s operation Ocean Shield) in order to avoid unnecessary duplication, since both organisations, the EU and NATO, on the basis of their respective decision- making autonomy operate in the same area, have the same interests and largely comprise the same European nations, in this context strongly welcomes the London conference on Somalia on 23 February 2012;

14. Calls for EMSA to continue cooperation with EU-NAVFOR ATALANTA by providing the operation following the flag state approval with the detailed LRIT data and satellite images of EU-flag vessels transiting through the area; for this, Member States should be required to authorise the Agency to provide these data and information to the EU‑NAVFOR operation;

15. Encourages the shipping companies to adhere and fully apply the ‘Best Management Practices for protection against Somalia Based Piracy’ (BMP-4) which provide sufficient information to all parties involved on ways how to assist ships to avoid, deter or delay piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia; reiterates its call on all vessels operating in the area to register with the relevant maritime security coordination bodies and follow EU‑NAVFOR ATALANTA recommendations; calls on the Member States to ensure that all their vessels are registered;

16. Urges the Council and the Commission in collaboration with the UN and the African Union, following the several requests by the Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for international assistance to counter piracy off its coast, to continue to co-operate and support Somalia’s TFG in the fight against piracy and the perpetrators who must be brought to justice and to help Somalia and the region to strengthen its capacities;

17. Welcomes the decision by the Foreign Affairs Council on 12 December 2011 on the preparation of the Regional Maritime Capacity Building (RMCB) regional training mission, which will aim at strengthening the maritime capacity and training of coastal police force and judges in eight countries in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean;

18. Notes the Djibouti process for peace and reconciliation; calls for a comprehensive approach to the situation in Somalia, linking security with development, rule of law and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law;

19. Welcomes the Commission’s decision to provide further EUR 50 million EU’s financial support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and calls on Member States and international community to help in promoting peace, economic development and building a stable democratic regime in Somalia that would facilitate security and the fight against piracy in the long term, welcomes the appointment of an EU special representative for the Horn of Africa;

20. Is concerned about still deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa and calls on the international community, and the EU in particular, to increase its provision of humanitarian assistance to people in need so as to meet the growing humanitarian needs and prevent any further worsening of the situation;

21. Welcomes the EU Marsic project under the ‘Critical Maritime Routes Programme’ of the Instrument for Stability with objective to enhance maritime security and safety in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden through information sharing and capacity building, highlighting regional cooperation among the countries of the region and expects its prolongation beyond 2013;

22. Encourages anti-piracy initiatives of Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region countries like the new anti-piracy project MASE (Maritime and Security Programme), which beneficed a start-up grant of USD 2 million from the EU;

23. Reiterates that piracy off the coast of Somalia is an extension of the absence of law and order in that country and therefore, the international community should provide the necessary technical and financial support to assist the TFG in developing capacity to exercise control over its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone;

24. Advocates a more formal coordination of the comprehensive strategy against piracy between the different parties involved in the EU; encourages the establishment of a formal Task Force, possibly under the auspices of the European External Action Service (EEAS), with all authorities involved; suggests that the concept of an EU Task Force is promoted within the United Nations Security Council in view of establishing a Global Task Force that will work in close cooperation with IMO;

25. Reiterates that this comprehensive strategy should have into account that a large part of the population in Somalia is benefiting from this practice and that any strong incentives for the Somali population to wean themselves off piracy need to be targeting youth employment;

26. Underlines that the use of private armed guards aboard is a measure that cannot substitute for the needed comprehensive solution of the multifaceted piracy threat; takes into account that some Member States have introduced relevant legislation; in this context calls on the Member States to perform necessary security measures on board when it is possible, as well as the Commission and the Council to work towards shaping an EU approach concerning the use of certified armed personnel on board in order to ensure a good implementation of the IMO initiatives in this regard;

27. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, Member States, the Secretaries-General of the African Union, the UN and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the President of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the Pan-African Parliament.


Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0213.


Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0519.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2009)0099.


OJ L 252, 20.09.2008 p. 39.


OJ L 301, 12.11.2008, p. 33.


OJ L 327, 11.12.2010, p. 49.

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