The EU fight against piracy in the Horn of Africa
Piracy in the Western Indian Ocean has been a growing threat to security, international shipping and development since the mid-2000s. While bearing all aspects of organised crime, piracy is a complex issue that can only be overcome by combining political and diplomatic efforts with military and legal action, development assistance and strong international coordination. With all these tools at its disposal, the European Union (EU) is in a unique position to contribute to international efforts, and addresses that challenge through a “comprehensive approach” tackling both current symptoms and root causes of the problem.
The EU’s engagement in the Horn of Africa is defined by the region’s geo-strategic importance, the longstanding EU engagement with countries of the region, the EU's desire to help lift the people from poverty into self-sustaining economic growth, and the need for the EU to protect its own citizens from security threats. The EU Council of Ministers adopted on 14 November 2011 a "Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa" to guide the EU's multi-sectoral engagement in the region. This document sets out the way in which the EU will pursue its strategic approach, working in partnership with the region itself, in particular the African Union, and key international partners. It defines five priorities for EU action: building robust and accountable political structures; contributing to conflict resolution and prevention; mitigating security threats emanating from the region; promoting economic growth, and supporting regional economic cooperation.
To coordinate these efforts, since 1 January 2012, the EU has a Special Representative to the Horn of Africa. A Greek national with extensive diplomatic experience in Eastern Africa, Alexander Rondos was tasked to initially focus on Somalia and the regional dimensions of the conflict there, as well as on piracy, which has its root causes in the instability of Somalia.