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EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said on Thursday (24 September) the EU naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea is to start capturing smugglers from 7 October.
“The political decision has been taken, the assets are ready”, she said, according to the AFP news agency.
“We’ll be able to board, search, seize vessels in international waters, [and] suspected smugglers and traffickers apprehended will be transferred to the Italian judicial authorities.”
Speaking at the Rome HQ of the EU naval operation, EUnavfor Med, Mogherini said the EU now has a complete picture of how the smuggler networks operate.
The EU began surveillance work (“phase one”) in June.
Mogherini said EUnavfor Med had recently identified 17 Libyan boats and three Egyptian boats which it could have intercepted if “phase two” had already begun.
“Phase three” – operations in Libyan waters and on Libyan coasts – requires UN Security Council or Libyan approval.
“We’re continuing to work on the legal framework that could make it possible for us to operate also in Libyan territorial waters”, Mogherini said, ahead of talks at the UN assembly in New York next week.
Full article: EU navies to start capturing smugglers from 7 October (EU Observer)