Full text 
Procedure : 2008/2635(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B6-0537/2008

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 23/10/2008 - 3

Votes :

PV 23/10/2008 - 8.3
CRE 23/10/2008 - 8.3
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Texts adopted
PDF 201kWORD 44k
Thursday, 23 October 2008 - Strasbourg
Piracy at sea

European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2008 on piracy at sea

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 resolution of 19 June 2008 on the routine killing of civilians in Somalia(2),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the General Affairs Council meeting of 15 September 2008 (13028/2008),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the External Relations Council meeting of 26 May 2008 (9868/2008),

–   having regard to 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)(3), and to UN Security Council Resolution 1838(2008),

–   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 and 1816(2008) of 2 June 2008 on the situation in Somalia,

–   having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas piracy on the high seas represents a growing threat to human life and safety, particularly in the seas off Somalia and the Horn of Africa, including to humanitarian aid to some 3 500 000 people who need assistance,

B.  B whereas there have already been complaints concerning an increase in piracy in other parts of the world, such as the Mozambique Channel, some areas off the coast of India, and the Caribbean,

C.   whereas the continuing conflict and political instability in Somalia have given rise to acts of piracy and armed robbery,

D.   whereas in the last year criminal assaults against Community fishing, merchant and passenger vessels in international waters near the African coasts have increased in number and frequency, posing a risk to the lives of the crew and having a significant negative impact on international trade,

E.   whereas the unhindered passage of vessels plying their trade legally on the high seas is an absolute precondition for international commerce,

F.   whereas such piracy is an immediate threat to mariners, whose livelihood depends on the safe and lawful exercise of their trade and profession at sea,

G.   whereas EU fishermen on the high seas have been targeted by pirates and the threat of piracy has led a significant number of EU fishing vessels to withdraw from seas hundreds of kilometres from the Somali coast or to reduce their fishing activity in the region,

H.   whereas a number of victims of piracy have been ordinary citizens peacefully pursuing their activities on board leisure craft in the seas off the Horn of Africa,

I.   whereas such piracy in part results from but also contributes to violence and political instability in Somalia, and has a knock-on effect on the rest of the Horn region, and its concomitant consequences for the civilian population of Somalia in terms of exposure to threats, lack of development and interruptions to food aid and other humanitarian efforts,

J.   whereas in 2007 it was reported that 20 crew members were murdered, 153 wounded or assaulted and 194 kidnapped,

K.   whereas, in response to the worsening of that phenomenon, the UN Security Council is currently working on a new resolution aimed at harnessing the support of the international community for a more effective implementation of existing suppression and prevention instruments, within the framework of maritime law and the UN Security Council's resolutions;

1.  Calls on the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, in collaboration with the UN and the African Union, to treat piracy and armed robbery committed from the Somali coast against vessels carrying humanitarian aid as criminal acts to be pursued by arresting the perpetrators under existing international law;

2.  Takes note of Council Joint Action 2008/749/CFSP, which establishes a military coordination action in support of UN Security Council Resolution 1816(2008) named EU NAVCO;

3.  Calls on the Member States sitting on the UN Security Council to renew the authorisations granted in Resolution 1816(2008), in line with the intention set out in Resolution 1838(2008);

4.  Calls on the Commission to seek ways to provide protection against piracy for EU-flagged and other fishing vessels that operate in international waters in the north-western Indian Ocean, possibly through cooperation with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission;

5.  Regrets the lack of consultation by the Council of the European Parliament on the decision to launch this European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) operation and urges the Council to provide information to the Parliament about the scope of this action and the exact tasks that the 'EU Coordination Cell' in the European Council will undertake in support of the ESDP maritime mission: EU NAVCO;

6.  Calls on the Council to clearly distinguish between the future ESDP mandate and the anti-piracy tasks performed by its Member States within the framework of Operation Enduring Freedom-Horn of Africa, aimed at countering terrorist activities; requests clear guidelines for detention and prosecution of captured pirates; calls on the Council to avoid any involvement of EU NAVCO in the ongoing conflict in Somalia; calls for effective coordination with other naval vessels in the region, especially those of the USA and Russia;

7.  Urges the Council and the Commission to seek to ensure that the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) legal instruments dealing with piracy and armed robbery are reviewed and updated as soon as possible, with a view to prosecuting and passing sentence on the perpetrators of such crimes;

8.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to encourage coastal states and all Member States to ratify the 2005 Protocol to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation;

9.  Invites those Member States that have not yet done so to transpose into their domestic law the relevant provisions of 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, which enable jurisdiction to be clearly established and thus to ensure the absolute legal certainty of criminal proceedings following the capture of pirates or perpetrators of armed attacks at sea;

10.  Welcomes the Commission's intention to improve coordination with the European agencies responsible for maritime surveillance, underlining especially the prevention of illegal activities (human and drug trafficking and illegal immigration) with a special focus on international waters; urges the Council not to equate the challenge of terrorism with the issues of illegal immigration and human and drug trafficking;

11.  Welcomes the Commission's initiative to promote negotiations for better management of the maritime space with third countries and strongly supports the increased cooperation with neighbouring countries for the protection of seas beyond national jurisdictions;

12.  Condemns categorically the trade in weapons and ammunition with organised bands that commit acts of piracy; asks the competent international organisations to recommend suitable measures for preventing weapons from reaching the hands of such pirate groups;

13.  Calls on the Commission to provide information to the Parliament about any decisions it might take about funding projects relating to critical maritime routes in the Horn of Africa, the straits of the Bab al Mandab and the Gulf of Aden;

14.  Calls on the Commission to consider how practical support might be given to the IMO's Sana'a/Dar es Salaam Agenda and in particular to the establishment of a Regional Maritime Information Centre or system in connection with this;

15.  Welcomes the progress made by the European Council in the preparation of a European Union naval operation against piracy, aimed at guaranteeing the safety of cargo ships transiting a shipping channel in the Gulf of Aden;

16.  Regrets that the action taken by the Council does not cover the region's fishing areas, and calls for swift action to be taken to that effect;

17.  Asks the Commission to set up, in the framework of the new Integrated Maritime Policy, a Community system for mutual cooperation and coordination that would allow naval vessels flying the flag of a Member State deployed in international waters to protect fishing and merchant vessels from other Member States, at the earliest possible opportunity;

18.  Welcomes, therefore, the adoption of an amendment at Parliament's first reading of the Union's general budget 2009 aimed at establishing a new budget line to finance a pilot project to examine the possibility of funding, managing and coordinating a Community action plan to protect Community vessels transiting through or operating in areas threatened by international piracy;

19.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to support actively, in the framework of the UN and the IMO, the initiative promoted by several Member States to extend the right of sea and air pursuit to the territorial waters of the coastal states, provided that the countries concerned agree, as well as to develop a mechanism for coordinated assistance against cases of maritime piracy; also calls on the Commission and Member States to work actively to ensure the adoption of a new UN Security Council resolution, since UN Security Council Resolution 1816(2008) will expire on 2 December 2008;

20.  Hopes that, in parallel to ensuring the safety of convoys and exercising the right of pursuit vis-à-vis their aggressors, the Commission and the United Nations do not neglect the path of political cooperation and normalisation with the states of the region concerned, in order to enable them to better prevent and combat crime at sea and its many root causes;

21.  Calls on the Council and Member States to explain the objectives of the EU military naval operation within the framework of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1816(2008) to suppress armed robbery and piracy off the coasts of Somalia; acknowledges that UN Security Council Resolution 1816(2008) and 1838(2008) were drafted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter as the only way to legitimatise the use of force; stresses, nevertheless, that under no circumstances should acts of piracy or acts against piracy be considered to be acts of war; urges the European Council to deal with piracy as a criminal act under existing international law;

22.  Calls on the Council to do everything in its power to identify and dismantle the organised criminal networks that reap the profits of such acts;

23.  Calls on the Commission and the international community to deploy all the necessary human and financial resources to help establish a stable democratic regime in Somalia, in the interests of effectively combating piracy on the high seas in the long term;

24.  Invites the Council and Member States to adopt clear and legally incontrovertible rules of engagement for the naval forces engaged in those operations;

25.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0213.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0313.
(3) OJ L 252, 20.9.2008, p. 39.

Legal notice - Privacy policy