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International Relations, PUBLICATIONS, Structural and Cohesion Policies

Maritime piracy must come to an end

MEP Graham Watson (ALDE, UK) told a parliamentary hearing on 7 June 2012 that maritime piracy is “particularly worrying”.

According to Mr Watson piracy has once again become a major problem with global impacts, just as it was in the 19th century. Events off the coast of Somalia and the Horn of Africa are particularly troubling. Watson said he wished to consider maritime security from various perspectives, including its social, economic and political causes.  

In 2011 alone, piracy off the Somali coast was responsible for 28 ships being hijacked, 470 seafarers kidnapped and 15 deaths. There are currently at least eight ships being held for ransom and about 235 seafarers hostage. The estimated cost to the international community has been put at over €6bn per year and is expected to rise to €11bn by 2015, the meeting was told. 

MEP Sir Graham Watson, MEP (ALDE, UK)

The conference brought together European policymakers, representatives of the military and the shipping industry to discuss maritime security, its impact on the ground and debate what role the EU can play in potential solutions.  

Speakers included the Danish ambassador to the political and security committee, a rear admiral from the EUNAVFOR operation, a head of operations of one of the largest shipping operators and the political advisors to the Commissioner and the Special Representative to the Horn of Africa.  

Participants also discussed EU actions to combat climate change and also the social and economic consequences of the insecurity.  

The aim of a maritime piracy policy should be to bring a more multi-disciplinary and holistic approach to the topic and bring military practitioners, environmental activists and local people together.  

Earlier this year, the Greens in the EP had already criticised  the EU  over its ‘piecemeal’ approach to counter-piracy.

Further reading

Library briefing: Maritime piracy originating in Somalia

Library summary: A private navy to combat piracy? (internal link)

Background information: Library Keysource on Piracy in Somalia (internal link)

Shipping piracy report – April 2012 

About Geert Plas

Polyvalent information specialist at the European Parliament Library

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