PIRACY: European Union Takes Control of Maritime Security in Gulf of Guinea

…To Ensure Political Control, Intelligence Sharing Among Member States

By DAPO OLAWUNI

Following the rising rate of piracy, kidnapping for ransome and organised crime in the Gulf of Guinea, the Council of European Union has announced the launching of the pilot case of the
Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) concept in the Gulf of Guinea.

This was contained in the outcome of proceedings approved by the Council at its meeting held on 25 January 2021, a copy of which was obtained by DAILY TREND NEWS.

A maritime security experts who spoke with our correspondent said the implications of this action by EU is that Gulf of Guinea member states, of which Nigeria plays a dominant role, is now regarded as a failed state, just like Somalia.

Recall that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had in 2019 hosted about 30 countries at the Global Maritime Security Conference 2019, a high-level maritime security conference meant to facilitate a clearer understanding of the challenges of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea region and develop tailored solutions. But two years down the line, this has not translated into safer maritime environment in the region.

The EU has however stated in the resolutions at its last meeting that it would henceforth, ensure political control and provide strategic guidance West and Central African States in their efforts to
address the many challenges to maritime security, including organised crime.

It says “The West and Central African States, which bear the primary responsibility for
combating maritime crime in the region, made political commitments already in June 2013 in the “Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships, and illicit maritime activity in West and Central Africa”

“These commitments have been pivotal in the progressive establishment of the ‘Yaoundé Architecture’ to improve coordination and cooperation on maritime security”

“Nevertheless, the Gulf of Guinea continues to face a challenging environment in which piracy, armed robbery at sea, kidnapping of seafarers, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, smuggling and trafficking of drugs and arms, as well as transnational organised
crime pose a major and increasing threat to maritime security, affecting freedom of navigation, thus endangering major trade routes, jeopardising the sustainable development of the entire region and the economic livelihood of the population, and leading to the
deterioration of the environment and biodiversity”

The EU has also affirmed its commitment to increasing work with the coastal States of the Gulf of
Guinea and the organisations of the Yaoundé Architecture, through greater European operational engagement, including by ensuring continuity, reactiveness, complementarity and
synergy between Members States’ actions.

Recalling both the EU’s Maritime Security Strategy and the related Action Plan, as well as the
EU’s Strategy on the Gulf of Guinea and its related Action Plan, following the Council
Conclusions of 17 June 2020, the Council said it is launching the pilot case of the Coordinated
Maritime Presences (CMP) concept in the Gulf of Guinea.

Continuing, the document read “While being distinct from the
CSDP missions and operations, the pilot case of this new EU initiative, reflecting the Union’s
growing role as a maritime security provider, can provide a substantial contribution to addressing the security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea”

“In this regard, the pilot case of the CMP should allow the EU to:
enhance the visibility of EU maritime presence and support the Union’s strategic and
political objectives, including conflict prevention, in close cooperation with
international and regional partners”

“Promote international cooperation at sea, in line with international law and UNCLOS in particular, and the exchange of information in the maritime security domain in specific areas”

“Use the CMP as a pragmatic maritime tool as part of the EU’s Integrated Approach”

“In this framework, the Council:
establishes the Gulf of Guinea as a Maritime Area of Interest (MAI) and welcomes the establishment of the Maritime Area of Interest Coordination Cell (MAICC);

“Recognises the importance for the Member States to further improve the coordination of actions carried out by their assets deployed in the MAI under national command, on a
voluntary basis. The Council will ensure political control and provide strategic guidance on the implementation of the CMP pilot case”

“Highlights the importance of enhancing the voluntary sharing of maritime security information among Member States and partners in the CMP pilot case if and when
deemed appropriate to improve maritime domain awareness in the MAI”

“Based on lessons learned from the implementation of the CMP concept, the Council will examine the possibility of applying this concept in other maritime areas of EU interest”

“Will revert to the implementation of the pilot case of the CMP concept in the Gulf of Guinea by January 2022”

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