Could this be the start of European Army operations? Only time will tell.
The European Union (EU) is planning to shift its operation in the Mediterranean against human trafficking to a more aggressive stance, said Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top official for security and defence policy.
The change would authorise the mission’s naval commanders to chase down, capture, and destroy the flimsy and overcrowded vessels used to ferry refugees – often fatally – to Europe’s shores.
During a webcast press briefing in Luxembourg on 3 September at the conclusion of two days of informal talks there among EU defence ministers, Mogherini told reporters that “we are ready to build on the good results of phase I” of the operation by switching to more proactive manoeuvres on the high seas.
“‘EUNAVFOR MED’ has fulfilled all the military operations of its phase I regarding the collection of intelligence and information. Thus today I proposed [to the ministers] to move to phase II: the capture and disposal of [moored trafficking] vessels and those that are escorting refugees,” she said. “Based on the intelligence we previously gathered, we could have already gone after smugglers and traffickers on at least 16 occasions. Transitioning to phase II would allow us to do this in the high seas. Once that decision is taken – hopefully in the coming weeks – we could do this, and thus contribute to the arrest of the smugglers themselves.”
According to the EU official, there is “a broad consensus” among the defence ministers to start phase II. “The MoDs showed a high degree of awareness of this need [to move to the second phase]. We will not face this unprecedented crisis with single national approaches. We need a mix of measures – and for Europe [as a whole] to act, and to act quickly. We do not have the luxury of postponing decisions on this matter,” said Mogherini.
Schneider added that one of the EU’s goals is to strengthen weak partner countries to help them provide for their own security, and that concrete train-and-equip projects benefiting them “should be launched soon”.
Full article: EU preps to launch military strikes against Mediterranean people smugglers (IHS Jane’s 360)