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Maritime transport: Seminar to strengthen the fight against piracy and armed robbery

European Commission - MEMO/12/223   28/03/2012

Other available languages: FR DE

MEMO/12/223

Brussels, 28 March 2012

Maritime transport: Seminar to strengthen the fight against piracy and armed robbery

Brussels, 28 March 2012 – The European Commission is organising today and tomorrow an event concerning piracy and armed robbery. These acts are a serious threat not only to the lives of seafarers but to maritime transport as a whole. It is essential that all those concerned continue to act decisively and that the necessary measures are implemented systematically to prevent seamen from falling victim to such attacks and to protect the economy of the marine transport sector.

Mr Siim Kallas, Vice President of the European Commission, says: I welcome the efforts of the international community in general and the International Maritime Organisation in particular. I do not forget the major impact of European commitment, whether via the EU NAFGOR - ATALANTA operation or traditional instruments of European aid. I am convinced that we need a comprehensive response, considering that at least 80% of all international trade relies on maritime transport. The European Union will remain fully engaged.

Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, said: "It's unacceptable that criminal gangs continue to take international waterways hostage and threaten thousands of sailors. Piracy is a complex issue which requires a combination of military and judicial action with political, diplomatic and development efforts. The EU's comprehensive approach makes a major contribution to international efforts to stamp out piracy, through its wide range of measures: protection and containment through Operation Atalanta, cooperation against impunity for pirates and the leaders of criminal networks, reinforcement of regional security capacities, and efforts to establish the rule of law and offer an alternative to young Somalis."

This seminar, organised in cooperation with the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will bring together officials from the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS), along with people such as:

  • Mr Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation,

  • Mr Ole Sohn, Danish Minister for Business and Growth, who will also represent the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union,

  • Mr Brian Simpson, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism.

Since 2008 the general public’s attention has been drawn to the alarming rise in the number of piracy acts off the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden. These acts continue to target – well beyond the Horn of Africa – the humanitarian convoys of the World Food Programme (WFP), commercial vessels, fishing fleets and recreational craft.

Therefore, over a two-day period, this third seminar will examine all of the issues related to maritime piracy.

  • The reinforcement of self-protection measures will be analysed carefully. Sensitive topics include shipbuilding standards and the technology available for discouraging attacks as well as the very delicate subject of using privately hired, armed security personnel on board ships.

  • All the players who have engaged in this battle in the past years will examine and comment on the action already taken to find solutions to this threat at international and European level, both on land and at sea, and they will also investigate the role of the press – or lack thereof.

  • A round table on the human cost of piracy will look at the impact of piracy on seamen’s work and lives and on seafarers’ career prospects in general.

  • Finally, insurance and maritime transport specialists will analyse the economic effects of piracy on the maritime transport industry and discuss its financial consequences on worldwide maritime trade.

Facts and figures for the Horn of Africa

  • Ten ships and 189 people are currently being held hostage.

  • A record was set in January 2011, with over 700 people being taken hostage. The average period of captivity is 7 months.

Links:

EU Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/126052.pdf

The EU fight against piracy in the Horn of Africa:

http://eeas.europa.eu/agenda/2012/200212_factsheet_piracy.pdf


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