An Informal Meeting of EU Defence Ministers was held in Mallorca last week to discuss the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) established by the Treaty of Lisbon.
A decision was taken at the meeting to expand the objectives of Operation Atalanta to include the surveillance and control of Somali ports where pirate ships are based. This decision will be implemented later in the month of March as weather conditions in the region improve. The decision represents a potentially significant expansion of the EU’s anti-piracy operations.
Also attending the Informal Meeting were the ministers of defence from Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia. A side meeting was conducted with regard to improving co-operation in matters of security in the Euro-Mediterranean zone. The side talks pertained to the so-called “5+5 Western Mediterranean Defence Initiative” or more simply the “5 + 5 Initiative”.
Spanish Minister of Defence, Carme Chacón, who chaired the Informal Meeting said in regard to the meetings with the defence ministers from the five Maghreb countries:
“Spain is very clear on the fact that the Mediterranean is a sea of opportunities, but if we let our guard down then it can become a sea of problems – and we share this vision with all the associations we are involved in. At the moment it is a sea of peace and tranquillity, but both North and South must work together to tackle the dangers and new threats of the 21st Century, such as international terrorism, drug smuggling and organised crime. We must put our surveillance and maritime safety capacities into action in order to combat these threats, which could become an area of concern or a problem if we do not deal with them properly. And Spain will not forget this. In terms of the initiative of bringing together the countries of Europe and the Maghreb, we would like it to be not just the Spanish Presidency that sees to hold these meetings, but for the EU to be able to sit down regularly with these countries to discuss issues relating to the Mediterranean Sea, which must carry on being a source of opportunities rather than one of concern.”
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