We commend the European Commission as well as the European External Action Service for taking into account the specificities of the shipping industry in this first-of-its-kind holistic strategy paper on maritime security” said Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary-General.
Commenting on what has become the biggest scourge of maritime transport, Mr Verhoeven added: “In the fight against Somali piracy, the EU has provided invaluable assistance through its naval mission Atalanta. Despite the fact that pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have considerably decreased, the situation remains easily reversible. We therefore urge the EU to maintain its naval presence in the area and continue the excellent work it has done so far”.
A very different type of pirate activity and armed robbery, which has recently been on the rise in the Gulf of Guinea, calls for swift and immediate EU action. “We hope that the extent of the problem will be fully understood by Member States. Geopolitical realities of East and West Africa are worlds apart. This in turn means that the EU’s approach needs to be tailored to regional specificities.”
ECSA is of the opinion that a first step towards eradicating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is the setup of a safe and reliable reporting mechanism, as it is today still impossible to quantify attacks. The EU should also support the development by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of international standards for private armed guards, which will contribute in reducing ships’ vulnerability.
In its attempt to encompass all security aspect of the shipping industry, the EC/EEAS Communication also touches upon ship and port security measures. Laudable as they are, the EU’s intentions should not lead to additional legislation in this area before making sure that synergies between existing initiatives have carefully been analysed and that the integration and simplification of the existing security measures have adequately been explored.